The Pomodoro Technique: How a Tomato Could Make You MUCH More Productive

Ali Luke

If you read any productivity or time management blogs, you might have come across the Pomodoro technique before. It’s a great way to focus your attention and get more done.

Here’s how it works in its most basic form:

1. Decide what you’re going to do (e.g. “draft my blog post”).

2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.

3. Work until the time is up: this is one “pomodoro”.

4. Take a 5 minute break, then start your next pomodoro

5. Every 4 “pomodori”, take a longer break.

(There are plenty of online timers like Tomato Timer that are designed for this.)

Most people adjust the technique slightly to suit them: for instance, you might choose to take a longer break after two “pomodori” not every four, especially when you’re starting out.


Image from Flickr by photon_de

Why This Method Works

Have you ever sat down to work on a blog post for two hours … only to find yourself tidying your desk, chatting on Twitter, getting distracted by interesting links, or generally wasting time?

Working for timed periods helps keep you on track. When a stray thought comes up – like “I need to send an email” or “I should check whether I had any replies on Twitter” – you can tell yourself that you’ll do it once the timer goes off.

You might find this is an especially useful technique if you’re trying to separate writing from editing: you could write for one pomodoro and see how far you get.

Where the Name Comes From

If this is the first time you’ve come across the pomodoro technique, you might wonder why it’s called that. Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato” and Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the pomodoro technique, used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.


There’s a lot of information about the pomodoro technique out there, particularly on dealing with interruptions: if you try the technique out and find it makes you more productive, do a bit of research into ways to take it even further.

Your challenge: Try the pomodoro technique today – or next time you blog – and see how you get on. Drop a comment below to tell us how it went.

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9 Responses to “The Pomodoro Technique: How a Tomato Could Make You MUCH More Productive”

  • Slavko Desik

    Dividing work into shorter time intervals sure seems to keep concentration and creativity flowing. Gonna try this for sure. Thanks Ali

  • Ali Luke

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    @Edwin — great to hear you’re finding this such a useful method. 🙂 I’m still getting the hang of it but will look for that free ebook!

    @Debbie — it can be tough to be a blogger/business owner because you’re responsible for everything — as an employee, you usually have a more defined and limited role. I think that’s partly what makes it so easy to get distracted.

    @Susan — that’s what I find toughest too; when I’m in the flow, I want to just keep going and not take a break from the task I’m on.

  • Ali

    Thanks for this post, and for the link to the Tomato Timer!

    I often use the timer on my oven – usually set for 1 hour – when I feel that inspiration to write. Otherwise, I find that hours pass and I forget to take a drink, go to the bathroom, blink.

    Using the oven timer means I have to actually get up from my chair and walk to the kitchen to turn off the annoying little shriek, which continues every two minutes for EVER!

    I like the idea of the tomato timer online too, because it will be a visual stimulant also with the breaks timed too. That’s a nice idea, cant wait to try it out this weekend!

    Thanks again…
    Ali Jayne

  • Susan Neal

    Hi Ali – I’ve tried this, and actually wrote a blog post about it a few months back, but I’m hopeless at it! I have a tendency to say “I’ll just finish this….” when the timer goes off – then, an hour or so later, I’m still slogging away. Or I forget to set the timer when I sit down for a new session – I have to put the timer on my keyboard to make sure I remember to set it. In principle it is a good technique, and I still try to apply it – but it’s not easy.

  • Debbie Polden

    It’s funny. When I was employed for a living I could manage my time really well. Now that I am retired and “blogging” for a living I find that I am more easily distracted. I think that I’ll give this method a try. Thanks. Debbie

  • Tammy

    This was a message on time management I really needed. It doesn’t hurt that capellini pomodoro is one of my absolute favorite meals. :- )

  • Shyam Chathuranga

    Wow Daniel you’re my first teacher of Online Marketing and I used to feel the taste of Productivity things & Personal Development things from your emails.

    You’re a great person. I’m writing an Email Course these days, So I can use this technique tomorrow morning. Keep posting about these things. I really like to learn about these.

    I started to read Steve Pavlina’s site too. Anyway that also caused by your emails.

    Thank you,

  • Edwin Soler

    I actually have used this before and even got the timer from Amazon. Quite frankly, you are better off just getting a regular timer, it will work just as well if not better.

    This system REALLY WORKS. If you Google around, there is a free e-book and manual as well that will help tremendously with this. It even has tracking sheet and an online account that will keep track of your progress too. Really cool! I made a binder for me and it’s really helpful.

  • faisal

    Seems like a good method but one really needs a strong mind to follow things.

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