The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named pomodoros, the anglicized plural of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.
The technique has been widely popularized by dozens of apps and websites providing timers and instructions. Closely related to concepts such as timeboxing and iterative and incremental development used in software design, the method has been adopted in pair programming contexts.
The Underlying Principles
There are six steps in the original technique:
- Choose your project or task. Decide on the task to be done.
- Enter it on your activity log.
- Set the timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on that project or task (until the 25 minutes mark)
- Stop exactly 25 minutes, and
- Take a break for 5 minutes.
Do no work-related activities during your break. Repeat this timed rotation sequence another three times. After four Pomodoro sessions, take a 15- to 30-minute break. Achieving progress is your main goal. The beauty of this strategy is that you train yourself to work in your most focused way in 25-minute segments. The Pomodoro strategy works best when you keep a record of what you accomplish in each 25-minute session.
For the purposes of the technique, a pomodoro is the interval of time spent working. After task completion, any time remaining in the Pomodoro is devoted to overlearning. Regular breaks are taken, aiding assimilation. A short (3–5 minutes) rest separates consecutive pomodoros. Four pomodoros form a set. A longer (15–30 minute) rest is taken between sets.
A goal of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A pomodoro is indivisible; when interrupted during a pomodoro, either the other activity must be recorded and postponed (inform – negotiate – schedule – call back) or the pomodoro must be abandoned.
Many times, the ideal time-management and efficiency tactics also are the least complicated and easiest to implement. The Pomodoro technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is a simple, potent approach. It’s a great way to schedule your work and to start and stay with new projects.