Pomodoros (or, My Gateway Drug to Productivity Methods)

Well, it makes sense to start these “productivity methods” posts with the very first one that I tried (and actually worked): the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and it’s ridiculously simple for how effective it is: it’s dividing your work in time blocks of 25 minutes.

Originally this is done with a kitchen timer (the name ‘pomodoro’ comes from those tomato-shaped kitchen timers, by the way), but it can be done with any timer you want. There are even multiple websites and apps for it! I just used the timer that comes with my phone, but you see what you like best.

So, here’s how it works:

  1. You set 25 minutes to work on a given task. (some people call each 25 minute block “one pomodoro”)
  2. You spend those 25 minutes working on that task, and that task only. If something else comes to your mind, write  it down and get back to it later.
  3. After this 25-minute block, take a 5-minute break (UNLESS you’re right in the middle of something and feel that you’re in “the zone”, then it can be better to skip the break and start a new 25-minute block right away)
  4. Every 4 blocks of 25 minutes, take a 20-30 minute break.

Simple, right?

There’s a lot of things that make this method so effective. First, it’s really easy and quick to implement. All you need is a timer, and a paper or something to keep count of how many pomodoros you’ve done. It is also quite easy to follow, since all you need to do is focus on one task for 25 minutes – which isn’t that much time! Every time you start getting distracted, or want to get away from the task at hand, you just look at the timer like “okay, just 10 more minutes, then I can check Twitter“. 25 minutes aren’t that much time, but you can get a lot done in that time if you focus on it!

04_pomo_1

come on, how hard can it BE??!!! 

I started using pomodoros in college, to study for my classes. I am very easily distracted, so using pomodoros helped me stay focused for at least 25 minutes at a time. And seeing that I could complete these blocks would actually encourage me to complete more! I started challenging myself to see how many pomodoros I could do each day, or for each subject. I kept filling my planner with little red dots (one for each pomodoro) that kept track of how much I had worked each day. It was fun and motivational. Now that I’m in grad school I haven’t been using them as much, but I’m trying to get back to it. Being in an office with 5 more people is a different setting than studying on my own at home, so I’m still having some trouble adapting to that.

I also use pomodoros when making comics! I force myself to stay away from my phone during each pomodoro, so I can focus on the comic page I have in front of me. Pomodoros also force me to take breaks every now and then, which helps me take care of my hand and wrist.

Pomodoros are a simple yet effective technique that helps you become more aware of your time and how you use it. It also shows you that a lot of tasks don’t take that much time, but we extend them because we keep getting distracted or procrastinating. The Pomodoro technique is also what got me into researching other productivity methods and techniques, but I’ll get to that in another post!

Have you tried the pomodoro technique? what are your experiences with it? 😛

  • Chi Señires

    I used to do it back in college, too! My prof recommended it, and only after his class did I start using it because I was curious if it was effective. It was, when I set my mind to it. But I tend to have this habit of… going against what I told I would do, so I think this technique really becomes effective you really set your mind to it. XD