The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that can be used for any kind of task. For many people, time is an enemy. The anxiety triggered by “the ticking clock”, especially when a deadline is involved, leads to ineffective work and study habits which in turn lead to procrastination.
The aim of the Pomodoro Technique is to use time as a valuable ally in accomplishing what we want to do in the way we want to do it, and to enable us to continually improve the way we work or study.
The Pomodoro Technique will provide a simple tool/process for improving productivity (your own and that of your team members) which is able to do the following:
- Alleviate anxiety
- Enhance focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions
- Increase awareness of your decisions
- Boost motivation and keep it constant
- Bolster the determination to achieve your goals
- Refine the estimation process, both in qualitative and quantitative terms
- Improve your work or study process
- Strengthen your determination to keep on applying yourself in the face of complex situations
To start using the Technique you only need some simple tools:
Put all the activities you have to accomplish on the ACTIVITY INVENTORY SHEET. At the beginning of each day select the tasks you need to complete and copy them on the TO DO SHEET.
- Choose the topmost task from the list
- Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes
- Work until the Pomodoro rings
- Mark the task with an X on the TO DO SHEET
- Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
- Keep on working, Pomodoro after Pomodoro, until the task at hand is finished, then cross it out on the TO DO SHEET.
Every four Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Rules and Tips
- A Pomodoro is indivisible
- If a task takes more than 5–7 Pomodoros, break it down
- If it takes less than one pomodoro, add it up, and combine it with another task
- Once a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring
- the next pomodoro will go better
- the Pomodoro Technique shouldn’t be used for activities you do in your free time. Enjoy free time!
Once you’ve started using the Pomodoro Technique, interruptions can become a real problem.
Internal interruptions are distractions that come from you: stand up and get something to eat or drink or to look up something on the Internet this minute. Make these interruptions clearly visible. Every time you feel a potential interruption coming on, put an apostrophe (’) on the sheet where you record your Pomodoros.
Then do one of the following:
- Write down the new activity on the TO DO SHEET under Unplanned & Urgent if you think it’s imminent and can’t be put off.
- Write it down in the ACTIVITY INVENTORY SHEET, marking it with a “U” (unplanned); add a deadline if need be.
Intensify your determination to finish the current Pomodoro. Once you’ve marked down the apostrophe, continue working on the given task until the Pomodoro rings. People who work in social environments have to deal with external interruptions: a colleague asks you how to compile a report; an email program constantly beeps every time a new message comes in.
A 25-minute or 2-hour delay (four Pomodoros) is almost always possible for activities that are commonly considered urgent.
Make these interruptions clearly visible. Every time someone or something tries to interrupt a Pomodoro, put a dash (-) on the sheet where you record your Pomodoros, apply the Inform, Negotiate, and Call Strategy.
Then apply one of the rules exposed above for internal interruptions.