The Pomodoro Technique

“If you want to be more productive, you need to become the master of your minutes” — Crystal Paine
The Pomodoro Kitchen Timer

Can you really, and I mean REALLY focus for 25 minutes? This is what the Pomodoro technique of time management which was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s is all about. Pomodoro means a tomato in Italian and this method is named after the pomodoro-shaped kitchen timer which Francesco used when he was a university student. It uses a timer to break down the work into small intervals called pomodoros separated by short breaks. It has been widely adopted in pair programming technique. It is based on the concepts of timeboxing and iterative and incremental development. There are basically six steps in this technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings.
  4. After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes) and then go to step 2.
  6. After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset the checkmarks count to zero and then go to step 1.

The goal of this technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on flow and focus. As every pomodoro gets completed, we get a sense of accomplishment which boosts our morale further and and acts as a positive feedback loop. Before starting with the entire process, the tasks which needs to be done are prioritised and recorded in a to-do list.

It provides the user with maximum focus and allows the completion of tasks with an increased efficiency with lesser mental fatigue. These frequent breaks help you keep your mind fresh and focused. The constant ticking of the timer for every activity also makes you more accountable and you spend less time procrastinating.

This method isn’t for everyone and there exists mixed opinions about the efficiency and usefulness of the system. For every person who is a devoted follower of this technique, there is one who criticises the same. So, is the Pomodoro technique right for you? I believe it is a matter of personal preference.