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The Pomodoro Technique: Improve your Productivity and Efficiency at Work

Sometimes, keeping up with your tasks at work can be pretty tricky. There are just so many distractions everywhere that seem to be determined to stop you from doing them, right? Well, have you ever tried managing your tasks with tomatoes? 

In 1980, Francesco Cirillo struggled to focus on his studies and complete his assignments. Determined, he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to help him concentrate and dedicate his time to studying 10 minutes at a time. This then gave birth to the Pomodoro (Italian word for tomato) technique!

The goal of the Pomodoro Technique is to reduce distraction and increase focus. It is centred around 4 basic principles: work with time, eliminate burnout, manage distractions, create better work/life balance. Cirillo wrote a 130-page book about the method, but it's actually super simple. All you'll need is a timer, determination, and the will to zone out almost everything but your task at hand.

The Pomodoro technique goes like this:

Graphic illustration of the pomodoro technique

Step 1: Get a timer and your list of tasks.


Step 2: Set your timer for 25 minutes, and work until the timer rings.


Step 3: Mark off one Pomodoro and record what you completed.


Step 4: Have a five-minute break.


Step 5: Start another pomodoro (task)

Step 6: Once crossed out 4 pomodoros, take a 15-30 minute break.


What makes it effective?

The Pomodoro technique is a simple way to balance focus with intended breaks. More than perfection, it is all about consistency. What makes it effective is that each session is a fresh start, and it gives you time to reevaluate your goals, challenge yourself to focus, and limit distractions.

Every Pomodoro allows you to improve your work and time management skills if you think about it. It challenges you to do better than the last. Cirillo even pointed out that "concentration and consciousness lead to speed, one Pomodoro at a time."


Tips for a successful Pomodoro-ing

The 25-5 minute work-break intervals are the heart of the Pomodoro Technique. But there are a few things you can do to make your Pomodoros more effective:

Tip 1: Plan out your tasks in advance

Think about the tasks you have for the day and note how many Pomodoros each task will take. 


Tip 2: Don't overdo it!

Don't go over sixteen pomodoros. If you work an 8-hour workday, and the pomodoros will go over sixteen, postpone the least urgent or least important tasks for later in the week.


Tip 3: Have extra pomodoros

Sure, some tasks require more time to do. This is why you'll need 2-4 pomodoros to use a buffer. These Pomodoros are for jobs that take longer than planned or unexpected tasks during the day.


Tip 4: Experiment with the length

Many people challenge themselves with 25 minutes. But if you just can't get yourself to stay focused for 25 minutes, try a 15, 10, or even 5-minute Pomodoro. You can even try a 25-50 minute range for peak concentration with a 5-15 minute break if you want to go all out. 


Tip 5: Take breaks from screens

Give your eyes a break from screens — yes, your phone too! What you can do is stand up, move around,  do a mini-meditation on your phone, or grab a snack. If you are using our Harmoni desk, gives your legs a break and do some stretching!


Tip 6: Use an app or a timer

No matter how motivated you are at the start of the day, it's tough to really stick to your Pomodoros - which is why an app can help you keep track of your time instead of looking at your watch too many times.

Woman with a noteboook looking at the time

The Takeaway

Start your day with a clear plan. Think hard about what you'll work on during each Pomodoro. Then, you can use the timer on your phone, a physical Pomodoro timer, or any of the many digital alternatives that suit you. 

The idea is to improve your focus one Pomodoro at a time! Challenge yourself to hit your number of pomodoros each day, and take the time to evaluate what went well and what you can do to improve your focus in the future without overwhelming yourself.