The first time I heard of the Pomodoro Technique was in November 2013 while working for a client. My client told me to learn this time management system and apply it while doing the tasks for him. So he sent me some materials to read and off I started.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a revolutionary time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo during the late ‘80s. It uses a timer to break down tasks into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks. Each interval is called a “pomodoro”, an Italian word for tomato, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he first used.

Why the Pomodoro Technique?

As a student, Cirillo had challenges focusing on his studies. Using a pen, paper, and kitchen timer, he devised a method of monitoring the time he spent on studying.

Many people think of time as an enemy. The need to beat the deadline, the need to arrive early for an appointment, and the need to finish tasks at the end of the day are just a few examples of how people envision time as an enemy.

However, with the Pomodoro Technique, you will learn to work with time instead of struggling against it.

How It Works

This method uses three things: a pen, some paper, and a timer.
Before starting, write down one Pomodoro cycle on paper like this:

  • First interval [25 mins]
  • First break [5 mins]
  • Second interval [25 mins]
  • Second break [5 mins]
  • Third interval [25 mins]
  • Third break [5 mins]
  • Fourth interval [25 mins]
  • Long break [15 to 30 mins]

Choose a task that requires your full, undivided attention and that you’d like to get done. Set the timer for 25 minutes and start working on the task until the time’s up. If you suddenly think of doing another task or another thought comes into mind, write that distraction down on paper and continue with the task at hand. When the timer rings, mark the first interval done. Take a 5-minute break then repeat the process four times. However, on your fourth break, take a long one, around 15 to 30 minutes.

This method encourages you to focus on one task and eliminate distractions. It also allows you to use the first few minutes of each Pomodoro to review what you’ve done on the previous interval. Also, the method discourages you to start the next step without finishing the task at hand.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you can measure the amount of time you spend on tasks in terms of Pomodoro units. If one Pomodoro cycle is equivalent to two hours, then you’ll have around four Pomodoro cycles or sixteen intervals of work to get things done in an 8-hour work day.

Is the Pomodoro Technique for You?

The Pomodoro Technique can be learned with time and practice. Based on my experience, Pomodoro Technique isn’t for everyone and doesn’t work on other creative tasks.

Proponents say that the technique works in the creative writing process. However, I don’t use the Pomodoro Technique when I’m writing a novel. Whenever I’m in the zone, I forget to take note of the time, thus the steps I’ve mentioned earlier become distractions.

Also, I admit I misused the Pomodoro Technique at some time. The first and second intervals were successful, but I prolonged the third and the fourth breaks. At first, it was fine, a few added minutes would not hurt. Then I realized that I’d be having longer breaks than I should.

I know that this technique should be practiced with discipline, but for creatives like me who appreciate the time away from a creative task, this method might not work.

Another thing, if the day is filled with meetings, travel or commute, or other time-consuming activities mostly away from the desk, the Pomodoro Technique wouldn’t work.

So I only use this whenever I’m faced with an important but daunting (or boring) task. This way, I’m forced to do the task and I’m taking accountability once I write down the Pomodoro cycle on my Bullet Journal.

Let me know if you have used the Pomodoro Technique and tell me what you think. Let me know, too, if I have missed anything. I’d appreciate your feedback. And if you like to read more about freelance writing, productivity, or creative writing, please do subscribe to my quarterly newsletter and join the tribe.