The Pomodoro Technique for Productivity: Does It Work?

The Pomodoro technique is probably one of the most famous ways to beat procrastination. The burning question is--does it work?
Lexin-Ann Morales

clock, tomato symbol for pomodoro, and a woman using pomodoro technique for productivity I used to hate techniques and self-help productivity books–until I heard about the Pomodoro technique for productivity.

While a lot of people are welcoming pieces of advice and tips, I hated it. I have always thought I didn’t need a special technique to be productive–it’s just me and my organizing notebook, that’s all. I didn’t need to try any sort of productivity tips to keep things done.

However, working from home changed me–I became more distracted than ever. No matter how much I tried to list down what I had to do, I always ended up not marking things “done” at the end of the day. Aside from the endless distractions, it was difficult to stay productive because of procrastination. Thinking I’ve got a whole day ahead of me to finish my tasks was comforting–I’ve always thought it’s okay to “rest” for a while. While my “little rests” sooner became bigger and more usual, that’s when I had to step up and address the problem.

When I started to hear about the Pomodoro technique for productivity, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I became interested and decided to give it a go for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s not much of a long commitment–25 minutes sounds doable.
  • A 5-minute break is essential after Pomodoros–I like taking breaks.
  • I like tomatoes.

After almost six months of doing the Pomodoro technique, I realized the things that worked and didn’t work for me during the entire time. Before I start to talk about how a Pomodoro technique works, it is good to consider trying this technique if you are:

  • Easily distracted (Like me)
  • Needs to accomplish several tasks per day
  • Needs something to spice up long-time tasks (Researching, studying, writing)
  • Loves to take a break
  • Enjoys being timed

If you found yourself at the list on top, let’s get you started on your Pomodoro journey.

Read also: Tips on How to Focus Better: Increase Your Productivity and Improve Concentration

What is the Pomodoro technique?

Finding it hard to focus on studying and doing assignments, Francesco Cirillo dared himself to concentrate on studying for just 10 minutes in the late 1980s. Decided to take up the challenge, he found a Pomodoro (Italian word for tomato) shape timer in the kitchen and set a 10-minute timer for himself. The Pomodoro technique was invented–and Cirillo even wrote tons of books about it.

How to use the Pomodoro technique?

The logic is simple. To start, use a timer and set it for 25 minutes and do your task. Once the timer rings, take a 5-minute break. Finishing a task after 25 minutes is considered a Pomodoro. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, take a longer break (20-30 minutes), and repeat the process.

Here are some noteworthy tips that you can try:
  • Take note of your Pomodoros. Listing your Pomodoros is important, too. To jumpstart with your Pomodoro, make sure to jot down the things you need to finish in a day, and mark “done” for every task that’s finished.

Pro tip: The Pomodoro technique for productivity is more than the timer–it’s also about getting rid of distractions and keeping your tasks organized. For a Pomodoro-focused experience, instead of using the usual timer, consider installing Pomodoro apps:

Paymo Pomodoro


Focus to-do: Pomodoro timer and to-do list

  • Personalize your pomodoro. If you’re not comfortable with the time, you can customize it based on your preference. Since 25 minutes seems too short for me, I tried to change my Pomodoro timer to 30 minutes, sometimes 40.
  • Aside from Pomodoros, list down your distractions as well. What I appreciate the most about the Pomodoro technique for productivity is not just its time management pros, but you can also be aware of your distractions. The Pomodoro timer that I am currently using provides choices of distractions that I can pick, but it’s not limited to these. Choose what distracts you the most, take note of it, and try to avoid it in the next session.
  • Take time to evaluate. After finishing your Pomodoros and listing your distractions, ask yourself the following:

Does this technique work for me?

What are my distractions?

How can I improve my next Pomodoro session?

Identifying and evaluating your productivity performance isn’t enough–make sure to address what needs to change and make it better next time.

Does the Pomodoro technique work?


pomodoro technique for productivity timer
Minimal Pomodoro GIF By Product Hunt

While every experience varies, here’s why the Pomodoro technique works for me:

  • Pressured time. I used to think that I still have a long day to finish my task–but with the Pomodoro technique for productivity, every minute counts. The pressure and need to finish a Pomodoro every 25 minutes forces me to work and get a task done.
  • Satisfying checkmarks. Just crossing a task in my list and marking it done is the most satisfying feeling ever! Looking forward to checking more projects, it excites me to start another Pomodoro session again.
  • Short-timed, but productive. It surprised me how much a single 25-minute can achieve so much more tasks than I expected it to be. What you can finish in 25 minutes will make you realize that you don’t need a whole day to accomplish something.
  • You don’t multi-task. What the Pomodoro technique does for productivity is you can focus on one task before jumping on to another. This helps you to concentrate more and don’t do things all at the same time.
  • It isn’t complicated. The Pomodoro technique for productivity is not a long, complex technique (Yes, there’s a book for it. But still!). Everyone can do it–whether you’re a student needing to finish a school essay, an employee with so much paperwork, or someone who just wants to clean the house–this technique is for you!
  • The Pomodoro technique for productivity is not by the book. Highly customizable, you can always tailor the time that works best for you.

The things that didn’t work for me

Although packed with a lot of benefits in time management and productivity, I experienced some cons along the way. Here are some of the things that didn’t work for me in my Pomodoro journey:

pomodoro technique for productivity traditional timer
Photo by Mike from Pexels

  • Longer breaks. Since 5 minutes is the standard break after every Pomodoro done, it’s hard to keep it to 5 minutes most of the time. This caused me to extend more time in my breaks-5 minutes became 10, 20, 30, and so on!
  • Tyrant timer. The timer can inspire most people to finish a task, but it can be exhausting for some.
  • The Pomodoro technique for productivity targets short tasks. In my experience, setting a Pomodoro timer for long tasks such as editing excels, reading research, and writing a long article can be confusing if not done consistently. Since it will take more than 25 minutes to finish a lengthy assignment, it would be best to not time it to avoid your workflow.

If the Pomodoro technique for productivity didn’t work for you…

It’s totally fine!

a man working in front of his laptop using the pomodoro technique for productivity
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

There are other techniques that you can try to combat procrastination and manage your time. Some of the other techniques are:

  • Eat that frog: Complete your most challenging or unpleasant task first thing in the morning. As the instructions say, In the morning, eat that frog!
  • Getting things done: Gather all your tasks–personal, big, small, professional, long-term, all in one place and organize them. Reflect on the list daily, every week, month, and repeat.
  • The action method: Organize your tasks–make sure all are actionable! List down the action that needs to be done, and repeat.
  • The Seinfield method: Choose one specific task that you want to achieve or improve. Mark off each day you complete this task–and repeat!

“One day we will be more creative, more productive, and yet more relaxed.”

- Francesco Cirillo, Inventor of The Pomodoro Technique

If none works for you, it’s fine as well. Sometimes you don’t need a technique just to be productive–it all boils down to the simple method of organizing and jotting down stuff that needs to be accomplished. While the Pomodoro technique for productivity isn’t for everyone–make sure to do your research and know which technique works for you.

So, does the Pomodoro technique work? Try and find out if it will suit you!

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