The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity improvement technique invented by Francesco Cirilo in the late 1980s. The technique involves using a timer to break down work intervals, initially in 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. The intervals are known as Pomodoro, after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Francesco Cirilo used as he was a student. Since its creation, the technique has been used by a number of apps websites and also people to provide timers and instructions.
This method is closely related to other productivity techniques such as timeboxing and iterative and incremental development.
Steps Involved in The Pomodoro Technique
The original technique involved six steps to be followed to achieve higher productivity:
Decide on the task to be done.
Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
Work on the tasks
Stop working when the timer rings and put a checkmark for the first complete Pomodoro.
When you have less than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then repeat the second step.
After four complete Pomodori (plural of Pomodoro), take a longer break (15–30 minutes), After this, reset your checkmark count to zero, then begin the entire process again.
The planning, tracking, recording and visualizing are important for the method. When planning, tasks are prioritized by recording them in a To Do List. By doing this, users can effectively estimate the amount of effort each task requires. By writing them down, users get a sense of accomplishment. Along with this, they get data on their self-observation and improvement over time. The time allocated between each pomodoro is devoted to overlearning. The breaks also help in assimilation.
Four pomodori forms a set. Each set is separated by longer breaks (usually 15-30 minutes) whereas pomodori are separated by short 3-5 minute breaks. The goal of this technique is to improve focus by reducing the internal and external interruptions affecting a persons focus towards the task at hand. Pomodoros are strictly indivisible. If one is interrupted, the only actions that can be done must be postponing the pomodoro (using the inform – negotiate – schedule – call back strategy) or completely abandoning the pomodoro.
Tools Required For the Pomodoro Technique
The creation of the technique encourages a low-tech approach by using a mechanical timer, a paper, and a pencil. The winding of the timer should represent the determination to complete the task at hand, ticking of the timer shows the desire to complete the task and ringing announces the break. Soon after, flow and focus come as a result of these physical stimuli.
The Science behind the Pomodoro Technique
The average human mind wanders off 15-20% of the time as per the researcher Jonathan Schooler. The pomodoro technique is thus preferred for its ability to catch one’s attention for just 25 consecutive minutes. Short breaks help keep a person’s attention span on track according to a study published in the journal Cognition. The study explained that:
When faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself as it keeps one’s attention on the task.
Working for long increases boredom which in turn affects one’s productivity but following a work-break-work pattern can solve this issue.
Breaks that involve physical movement help shift the brain’s gears, boosting focus.
The pattern created by the Pomodoro technique helps to motivate people to get things done. The technique stimulates the brain’s incentives for reward. By taking short breaks you train your brain to resist boredom and cut out self-interruption at work. A famous study revealed that taking short breaks after intervals of work help stop procrastination, a widespread hindrance that stops people from completing daily tasks. The in-built breaks of the Pomodoro technique reenergize the brain and as such, the need to resort to simplistic decision-making is reduced significantly.
When one is forced to measure time, he/she succumbs to stress. For instance, one would be stressed when a deadline is approaching and the work to be done is not nearly complete. The technique helps view time as a sequenced series of events and thus there is no time-related stress to be dealt with. Besides, one becomes more conscious of their time when they zoom in on only what they’re doing in the next 25 minutes.
The technique discourages multitasking as it harms the brain and slow progress. In a Pomodoro session, one works wholly on one task and limits distractions for the entire duration of the Pomodoro. According to a study from the University of California Irvine when one switches from one task to another it takes an average of about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on this new task. All this time wasted on refocusing could be used in a more useful manner.
The Pomodoro Technique supports timeboxing and fights Parkinson’s law. Timeboxing relates to dedicating blocks of time to items on your to-do list and this can be done more effectively in pomodori. In simple terms, divide time into chunks, and complete tasks within them, much like the work episodes followed as part of the Pomodoro technique. With this combination, one can:
Focus on the time spent, thus better time management
Prioritizing tasks and putting distractions aside since you’re racing against the time set for a Pomodoro.
Defeating Parkinson’s law which states Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.