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Does the Pomodoro Technique Actually Work?

Pomodoro Technique Time Management Method

Whether it’s a task for your 9-5 job or taxes to keep your finances on track, we all have a seemingly endless list of tasks to finish each day. So what do we do when there are a million things to do but no end in sight?

Enter the Pomodoro technique! This technique is a time-management system built to help you best utilize your time and complete tasks efficiently without making you feel burnt out. Here’s how you can get started with the technique at home.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique designed to help productivity and focus. It was created by Francesco Cirillo, and named “Pomodoro” after the Italian word for tomato. Cirillo famously used a tomato-shaped timer during this time technique!

So how does the Pomodoro technique actually work? It’s actually very simple.

1. Choose Your Task

The first step to the Pomodoro technique is to choose which task you’ll tackle.

This can be overwhelming when there are too many things to do and countless deadlines to keep track of.

Need help? We have 6 lists to make when you’re feeling overwhelmed, which include lists for urgent tasks and tasks that are coming up, as well as lists to help you brainstorm future ideas and more. Choose from the tasks that are most important or have the soonest deadlines, and start to settle into the zone to work!

2. Set Your Timer

Next, you’ll need a timer. Pomodoro work sessions consist of 25-minutes of work, followed by short breaks. You can use Cirillo’s traditional tomato timer if you have one! Some people prefer a traditional wind-up timer as the act of winding it can help them get into a working zone.

However, a quick digital timer on your phone or web browser works just as well. If you’re using your phone, try to keep it on silent and mute any notifications from coming through.

3. Get to Work

Get ready, get set, and go! It’s time to get to work. If you’re having trouble getting started, try to ask yourself questions about the tasks. Why is it important? What is the ultimate goal of your task at hand?

Asking yourself these questions, and even writing them down, is a great way to problem-solve and start working when a task seems too big to get started.

4. Choose Your Break

After you’ve completed 25 minutes of work, congratulations!

Pat yourself on the back and make a note or checkmark on a piece of paper. It’s finally time for a 3-5 minute break!

Some amazing ways to spend your break minutes could include doing a quick stretch or exercise, as well as grabbing a snack. After four Pomodoro sessions of 25 minutes, you’ll take a longer, 15-30 minute break. This is why keeping track of your sessions on a piece of paper is ideal, as tracking helps you identify longer breaks and provides a quick satisfaction boost between work sessions. 

5. Complete Your Work

Finally, repeat the Pomodoro work and break sections until your work is completed. Most individuals like to complete at least 4 full combinations of work and break sessions at a time. 

If you complete your work before a 25-minute session is complete, you should remain focused and review your work until the timer is complete. This will help you quality check your work and stay accustomed to the work minute increments.

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

Structure Breeds Productivity

There are many benefits to the Pomodoro technique. For some, simply having a process to rely on is enough to create structure and productivity. This is especially true for freelancers or even those of us with inconsistent work schedules.

Setting that timer can offer structure and a goal to complete each segment of work!

The Pomodoro Technique Reduces Distractions – Research Confirms

Additionally, there are many scientific benefits to taking breaks while you work, something that the Pomodoro technique forces you to do. According to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, participants who were forced to take a break during work sessions ended up being more focused overall.

They were more successful at completing the task at hand compared to groups who did not take breaks. The researchers believe this is because of the brain’s reaction to change. Focusing on one task for a long time requires a lot of energy since the brain is programmed to react to changes around you.

In comparison, focusing on a task, then “getting distracted” by a break before focusing on the task again, is a way to take advantage of your brain’s tendency to wander and react to change. When you return to the task, you’ll be more focused than if you hadn’t taken a break at all.

Preventing Burnout

This will also protect you from burnout, which is a real challenge during work sessions. Sometimes, you work for so long that your neck and back start hurting and your brain wants to do anything but more of well…that! By purposefully working in breaks with the Pomodoro technique, you’ll start hitting the refocus refresh button more often and get more done overall. 

If you have multiple projects to work on at a time, you can even rotate between these projects during each 25-minute Pomodoro work session. While this is not the traditional way to conduct work sessions, some of us naturally work better on a rotation of tasks. It’s important to make a technique work for you, at the end of the day!

Staying Motivated with the Pomodoro Technique

There are countless productivity tools and methods out there. The Pomodoro technique is a popular choice for its simplicity and ease in getting started. There isn’t much to lose out on by giving it a try.

If the traditional Pomodoro technique isn’t working for you, consider switching it up by swapping out tasks every work session, or changing the lengths of work and break segments. Ready to learn more about how to increase productivity and self-care in your life? Read more of our blog posts on productivity today.