Pomodoro it!

Having trouble getting things done? Feeling overwhelmed by the amount how much there is to do compared to the short amount of time you have to accomplish them? Or do you need to force yourself to rest because you go, go, go, go and never stop until you drop?

Pomodoro it!

I learned of the Pomodoro technique this summer during my Master’s program. Named after a tomoato-shaped timer (perhaps from the sauce?) by Francesco Cirillo, the idea is simple: 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break. Here’s a quick video from perhaps the “official” (or at the very least copyrighted) Pomodoro Technique website with an overview.

When we heard about this, my fellow students and I implemented it immediately. Hours later groups of 2 or 3 or even those working alone all set times for 25 minutes. No emails, no checking Facebook, no suddenly “I-need-to-pay-that-bill-I’ll-just-do-it-real-quick-like” or trips to Google to find out if that guy you saw in the movie last night was the same guy who was in that bike movie with Kevin Bacon–and what is that name of that movie anyways?

No, during the 25 minutes of work time there is none of that. It is focused. When 5 of us were working on our movies near the end of our month in Ireland, we Pomodoro-ed ourselves. If someone got up to get a snack during a Pomodoro, cries of “wait 12 minutes!!” would shame that person (who may or may not have been me) back to work. And it is amazing how much work we got done, and how quickly! I’m a believer.

More recently I started Pomodoro-ing rest as I was recovering from a concussion. Sitting still is not easy for me, so I adjusted my work/rest times and rested for 25 minutes then allowed myself to get up/look at a screen/do something for 15 minutes.

Finally, if the timer on your phone isn’t enough, there are a bazillion fun apps. The one I am currently using is by TapTM. I like it because it tracks how many Pomodoros I’ve used and I can change my break and work times.


Not only did a Pomodoro Timer help me be productive in graduate school, but it also helps me clean out my house, grade papers and when I suffered a concussion in August and had to rest my brain, I Pomodoro-ed rest: 25 minutes on the couch with my eyes closed then 5 minutes to check email or change the channel.

I hope this simple little tool helps you as much as it has me!