What Is The Pomodoro Technique? (With Benefits And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Time management is one of the essential skills to gain for succeeding in any kind of work. The Pomodoro technique is an established way to reduce procrastination and distraction while improving efficiency and productivity. In this technique, you work for shorter periods and take quick breaks in between instead of working continually. In this article, we discuss what the Pomodoro technique is and how to use it, explain its benefits and provide some useful tips to use this technique effectively at work.

What Is The Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that author and software developer Francesco Cirillo developed in the 1980s. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. The technique gets its name from Cirillo's kitchen timer that looked like a tomato. In this technique, the idea is to divide bigger projects into smaller tasks that you can accomplish in a short time. Each of these small tasks is a pomodoro. The goal of this technique is to help you increase your efficiency and be more productive.

A standard pomodoro lasts for about 25 minutes and then a five-minute break follows. A pomodoro is for 25 minutes because this time is neither too long nor too short. A longer timeframe may make you procrastinate, while a shorter one may not be enough to complete the task. Also, the five-minute break that follows the 25 minutes of work can help you complete your tasks with more energy. This total of 30 minutes is also ideal to plan every hour of your day more efficiently.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition And Examples

How To Use The Pomodoro Method

Here are the steps for using this efficient time management technique:

  1. Divide a large project into smaller parts. Determine what you are trying to accomplish and then break it into smaller tasks that you can work on without taking a break. This would be one pomodoro, which you could set according to a reasonable goal.

  2. Group extremely small tasks into one part. Some tasks do not require the full pomodoro, such as checking emails. You can group these small tasks into one pomodoro.

  3. Set your timer for 25 minutes. A typical pomodoro lasts for 25 minutes. This is when you focus solely on just one task.

  4. Take a five-minute break when the timer is up. As soon as your timer rings, take a five-minute break. This step is an integral part of the entire Pomodoro method.

  5. After four pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Four pomodoros is roughly two hours. Take your meal or snack breaks when this time comes.

Benefits Of The Pomodoro Method

Here are the benefits of using pomodoros to manage your time while working:

Reduce procrastination

It is easier to start with small projects rather than directly begin an enormous project. This is because procrastination may happen when there is an overwhelming amount of pending work. This is where pomodoro can help. Its core function is to allow you to divide bigger projects into more manageable tasks.

When you look only at one task at a time, it may seem more doable. Then, instead of thinking about the outcome of the entire project, you can focus on the result of the mini-task that you have outlined for the next 25 minutes. This is how this technique can help reduce procrastination and begin your project.

Manage distractions

There may be many distractions when you are at work. They come as emails, group chats, text messages and social media updates. You may think that you are checking your email for just a second, but once your mind gets distracted, it may take some time to focus on your work again.

The Pomodoro method solves this challenge by allowing you to concentrate only on the task at one time. You could also group these distracting tasks into another pomodoro right after you finish the current one. This way, you get to address all the incoming messages at a scheduled time without disturbing your work.

Related: How To Practise Self-Discipline In The Workplace

Plan your projects better

Planning a project often requires you to assign timelines to certain tasks. These timelines, when decided correctly, can lead to the completion of the project on time, customer satisfaction and a good turnover. The Pomodoro way of managing time can help in all of this. When you know how much time and effort you require for one task, you can plan the next project without missing deadlines.

With this technique, the measurement of time becomes tangible and substantial instead of just the number of hours spent on a project. You can also identify the areas of the project that need more time and the areas that do not. This helps in allocating your resources more efficiently.

Challenge yourself

This technique is more about maintaining consistency. When you consistently work according to pomodoros, you may find that your concentration levels have improved. This could lead to working faster. This means that in the future, you could reduce the number of pomodoros it takes to complete a similar project. When you continue to follow this method, you can slowly begin to challenge yourself to add more to each of your pomodoros. This is how the method allows you to gradually improve your efficiency.

Tips For Using The Pomodoro Method

Here are some tips for using this technique effectively:

Have all the equipment ready

The only things you require are a pen, paper and a good timer. Use pen and paper to define your pomodoros. You could also use a digital notepad or the various notepad apps on your smartphone to write these small tasks. Then, get a reliable timer. You can use a simple alarm clock or you could use the built-in timer on your smartphone.

Make time to plan your pomodoros

Use the beginning of the day or the end of your day to plan your pomodoros. Typically, the end of the day works best so that you can directly start working the next morning. In some jobs, you may find it easier to plan at the beginning of the day because that is when you get to know about the scope of the project.

For example, if you are at a job that handles client queries, you may get fresh queries every morning, which you may not know about the previous night. In this scenario, it may be better to plan your pomodoros at the beginning of the day. Either way, it is a good idea to use one pomodoro to plan your day. If planning does not take 25 minutes, you could combine it with another small task to make it a pomodoro.

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Add buffer pomodoros to your day

Any important distraction may occur during your work. While you continue to follow your planned pomodoros, it is a good idea to keep one or two empty pomodoros for unplanned activities. This way, you can still efficiently complete your tasks within the set timeframe. If you have unused pomodoros on some days, you could use them to learn something new, help teammates or engage in some creative work.

Be flexible with the length of one pomodoro

Although the standard length of one pomodoro is 25 minutes of work and five minutes of break, it may not work for all domains. For example, if you work in a creative field such as filmmaking, music composition or any other creative arts, assigning 25 minutes to a task may feel too little. In such scenarios, you can create longer pomodoros of two or three hours and then assign longer breaks after each pomodoro. Experiment with different timelines to know what length of pomodoro works best for you. Once you have decided the timeline, it helps to follow it consistently.

Make use of smartphone apps

At the beginning of your day, an old-fashioned timer or an alarm clock works well to remind you that your pomodoro is over. As your day proceeds and you get busy with work, it may become more difficult to strictly follow the timelines. This is where advanced apps can help. Smartphone or desktop apps can help you customise your work sessions. You can also set the apps to allow them to lock your computer when it is time to take a break.

Use your breaks to rejuvenate

When you take your five-minute break at the end of each pomodoro, allow yourself to get away from the screen. This includes not looking at your phone, either. Do some simple stretches, sit for a short meditation, go up and down the stairs, watch the scene outside your window or go stand on the terrace. The idea of these breaks is to rejuvenate yourself and get back to your desk to begin the next pomodoro with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

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