Because the Italian student Francesco Cirillo was so often distracted from his actual tasks in the 1980s and was thus short of time, he developed a resolution: He would work for 25 minutes in a highly concentrated manner and then take a short break in order to start the cycle all over again. He stopped the time with a kitchen alarm clock. Because it looked like a tomato, he named his newly developed time management method "Pomodoro" - Italian for tomato.
The basic principle of the Pomodoro Technique is simple: Pomodoros - as the 25-minute phases of concentrated work are called - alternate with regular breaks. This increases productivity without working yourself to exhaustion. The regular breaks also mean you're not sitting at your desk non-stop all day - your back will thank you.
A Pomodoro cycle consists of seven steps - and takes about two and a half hours total, depending on the length of your breaks:
- Select a task.
- Set alarm for 25 minutes.
- Work on task until it rings.
- When the timer rings, check the completed task off the to-do list.
- Take three to five minute break.
- Repeat items 2 through 5.
- After the fourth pass, take a 20 to 30 minute break.
Before starting the actual pomodoro, good preparation is important. Complete these four steps before you start your (tomato) alarm clock for the first time:
Write down and prioritize tasks.
Summarize all open tasks in a to-do list and sort them by urgency and importance.
Estimate the time needed
Estimate how much time you will need for each task. It's not easy at first, but you'll quickly get better at calculating. Express the time needed in 25-minute work units. Break large tasks down into sub-steps and group to-dos that can be completed quickly into a pomodoro.
Calculate time budget
Calculate how many pomodoro intervals you can get through today and schedule all the pomodori on your calendar.
Assign a task from the to-do list to each Pomodoro slot on the calendar and get started.