The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique (“Pomodoro” is Italian for “Tomato”). 

Make the most use of the time you spend on working and deepen your concentration and productivity using this effective technique!

Essentially; it is a way of breaking your work time into “Pomodoros” (“units of time” such as 25 minutes).  

When you set out to do your work for a Pomodoro, you write any distracting thoughts on a piece of paper to be accomplished later.

Your goal is to “Protect the Pomodoro”, meaning guard your work time as sacred. 
By defining a specific amount of time to work, you develop the ability to concentrate deeper and are more effective.

You then take a
5-minute break where your mind and eyes get to rest and relax.
Your brain will thank you later!

I used to resist the 5-minute break time when I was absorbed in my work, thinking that I might lose my train of thought, or might have a harder time returning.  I have experienced that the breaks I take during work time actually do increase my overall productivity.  I can work longer overall, and during my “Pomodoro” can push myself through the extra minutes, knowing the time will end and I will have my break.

Think of a Pomodoro as a Unit of Time.  By setting your focus on working uninterrupted on a specific task for 25 minutes most people report that they can concentrate deeper and work more productively.  Below is a general guideline for how the Pomodoro Technique works.

1.  On your Pomodoro Planner (or in your agenda book) write down exactly what you need to do for the day.  Include homework, chores, phone calls, putting in retainers, everything that must be done.

2.  Figure out how much time you have during that particular day to devote to work and break it down into “Pomodoros” (units of 25 minutes).
Allow 5-minute breaks per Pomodoro (25 minutes) plus a 20-30-minute break for every 4 Pomodoros (every 25 minutes).


25 minute Pomodoro
5-minute break
25 minute Pomodoro
5-minute break
25 minute Pomodoro
5-minute break
25 minute Pomodoro
20-30-minute break
Repeat if Needed

3.  Estimate how many Pomodoros each item on the list should take (ex. Reading “x” pages should take 3 Pomodoros) 




4.  If you have a few items on your list that will take less than one Pomodoro, combine them into one Pomodoro (call 2 people, clean up room)

5. Place a small square next to each item for each Pomodoro you estimate the task will take.

6.  Keep a separate piece of paper titled “To Do” by your work area to keep track of non-essential tasks.

7.  Begin the first item by setting the timer for 25 minutes.  During that time, any internal distractions that come up (“I want to check the score on the game”, “I want to text Taylor”) if they must be acted on today, write them on the Planner and return to work immediately.  If they can be done a different day, write them on the “To Do” sheet and RETURN TO WORK IMMEDIATELY.

8.  PROTECT THE POMODORO!  This is your time to focus.  25-minutes goes quickly.  Allow yourself to become immersed in your work.  When the timer goes off, put an “x” or a “√ “in the box.  Set the timer for a 5-minute break.  Walk around; make a call, daydream, do some pushups, whatever.  Then return to the next Pomodoro.  After 4 Pomodoros, take ½ hour break.

9.  If anyone interrupts you during this time, politely tell him or her that you will get back to him or her and tell him or her when you intend to get back to them.

10.  If a Pomodoro gets interrupted and you don’t return to your work, that Pomodoro doesn’t get counted.  THE NEXT POMODORO WILL GO BETTER.

Things to do during your 5-minute break:

  1. 5-minute stretch/yoga routine.
  2. Short walk.
  3. Make a call.
  4. Daydream.
  5. Breathing exercises.
  6. Meditate
  7. Make yourself a snack/drink.
  8. Step outside for some fresh air and sun.
  9. Rest your eyes.
  10. Relax

Your brain will thank you later.

Pomodoro Planner

List All Homework, Studying, Project work, and Other Responsibilities

Consider how much time you have available today to spend on Obligations.  Break that time down to see how many Pomodoros you have available.  Include a 5-minute break after every 25 minutes of working and a 20-30-minute break after 4 sets of Pomodoros.  Place a square for each Pomodoro you estimate a task will take.  Check off as you complete a Pomodoro.

Pack it up – Turn it in!!!

Remember that you deserve credit for the work you have completed.

Here’s another article on the Pomodoro Technique, What I Learned About Time Management from Running and a Tomato.

If you’d like to join or learn more about my upcoming Calm & Connected© Parenting Workshop, where I discuss more strategies, tips, and tools like this, please Click Here.

Written by Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M., ADHD-CCSP © 2013 PTS Coaching. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced or electronically distributed as long as attribution to PTS Coaching is maintained.

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