Could the Pomodoro Technique boost your productivity?


Dividing your time into manageable chunks could help you to focus while working from home.

The original low-tech focus tool

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management system coined in 1987 by Francesco Cirillo, a university student who used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to manage the hours in which he studied. Cirillo has since grown the concept into a focus tool that’s been used worldwide, with devoted fans of the original timer technique.

The tool itself has changed since 1987. Although some still like to avoid digital timers while they work, there are online versions of the Pomodoro Technique which have added functions like internet blockers and notification silencers to the original idea. Whether analogue or online, all these techniques follow the same basic principle.

How does it work?

The technique is about dividing time into bursts of focus and a fixed break. Set a timer for 25 minutes of focused work, and once that time is up take a five-minute break. Repeat the same process four times, and once that’s finished take a longer break of half an hour. Carry on in the same pattern until the piece of work is finished.

It works on the basis that focusing on a piece of work is easier when the task is broken down across manageable chunks of time. Dividing time into short intervals also adds a sense of urgency to the work: there’s no getting away from the need to concentrate in order to work efficiently in 25 minutes.

The short rest after every pomodoro, and longer break after every four, also means that it becomes easier to concentrate on work for a longer period of time overall without becoming exhausted too early.

Is it effective?

Cirillo says that the technique will teach users how to “work with time, eliminate burnout, manage distractions and create a better work-life balance”. It’s a tall order but he cites the millions of fans of his technique worldwide as an example that his “deceptively simple” technique really works.

Some fans of the original version even find the ticking noise of the wound-up timer to be motivating in itself. That might not go down well in an office, but while working from home it could be worth a try.

Whether with a traditional timer or through a digital tool, the Pomodoro Technique could be a useful tool to try to combat the distractions of working at home, and a helpful tool to manage your productivity through the day.

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