What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

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Getting something done on time and ticking it off your to-do list can be extremely satisfying. However, it can sometimes be hard to get things done if you’re having trouble managing your time or feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do. In that case, it may be helpful to use a time management technique to help you get started and manage your time more efficiently.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool that involves splitting work tasks into 25-minute intervals, known as pomodoros, with breaks scheduled in between each interval.

This article explains how the Pomodoro Technique was developed, how you can practice it, and the benefits and drawbacks it offers.

How to Practice the Pomodoro Technique

Here’s how to practice the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Select your task.
  • Set a 25-minute timer.
  • Work on the task until the timer goes off.
  • Take a 5-minute break.
  • Repeat this format.
  • Take a longer 15- to 30-minute break every four pomodoro intervals.

These are some tips that can help you implement the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Use a timer: Using a timer can help ensure you stay on track and don’t overshoot your intervals. You can use an old-fashioned kitchen timer to set an alarm for every pomodoro interval and break. Or, you can use a timer app on your phone, if you prefer. If you’re working on your computer, some browsers also have pomodoro timer extensions.
  • Plan your tasks: It can be helpful to plan out your tasks for the day and estimate how many pomodoro intervals you need for each task. Split complex tasks on your to-do lists into smaller chunks so that you can easily divide them into pomodoro intervals.
  • Make the most of your breaks: Use your breaks to sip on water, nibble on a snack, stretch your limbs, do a quick meditation, or take a short walk. These activities can help you feel refreshed so that you’re ready to get back to work again after the break.
  • Customize the intervals: If you’ve tried the Pomodoro Technique and feel that the 25-minute pomodoro intervals or 5-minute breaks are not working for you, you can adjust the timings to suit you better. The idea is essentially to set out chunks of time to focus on work and take breaks in between to relax your mind and refresh yourself. Timers with customized intervals and breaks are sometimes referred to as marinara timers.

How the Pomodoro Technique Was Developed

You’re probably wondering how this technique was developed and why the intervals of time are measured in units of tomatoes. The Pomodoro Technique was developed in 1987 by Francesco Cirillo, who explains how it came about on his website.

As a university student studying for exams, Cirillo found himself struggling to focus on his books. He used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (known as “pomodoro” in Italian) to set a 2-minute timer for himself and challenged himself to stay focused for just two minutes.

When it worked, he set the timer for a longer interval and found that it helped him stay focused on his task. He experimented with different interval periods and found that 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break was ideal. 10-minute intervals were too short to get anything done and hour-long intervals without a break were too long.

In developing the technique, Cirillo’s motivation was to use time effectively and turn it into an ally, rather than thinking of it as a vicious predator that was to be feared and avoided.

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

These are some of the benefits of the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Encourages focused work: Demarcating a period of time only for work can help you stay focused on your task and prevent you from getting distracted by other things, such as checking your social media, unloading the dishwasher, or switching to a different task.
  • Helps you get started: Sometimes, if you have a lot of work to do, it can feel overwhelming and you may not know where to begin. The Pomodoro Technique helps you get organized, by breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks that you can tackle one at a time.
  • Improves efficiency: If you tend to procrastinate or get easily distracted, the Pomodoro Technique can help you manage your time better by making you accountable to yourself. It can help you use your time more efficiently and accomplish your goals.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety: If you have a deadline approaching, time can sometimes feel like the enemy and cause you to experience stress and anxiety. Having a framework to manage your time can help you feel more in control and reduce your stress and anxiety.

Drawbacks of the Pomodoro Technique

These are some of the drawbacks of the Pomodoro Technique:

  • The fixed intervals and breaks can sometimes feel too rigid and regimented.
  • It can be stressful if the task takes longer than the stipulated interval.
  • If your task gets over before the interval, you may find yourself wondering what to do. 
  • The framework doesn’t account for interruptions beyond your control. For instance, there may be other tasks or colleagues that demand your attention at work.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re looking for a time management strategy to help you be more productive and make the most of your workday, it’s worth trying the Pomodoro Technique to see if it works for you. You can try the 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks, or customize the intervals to suit your needs.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kreider CM, Medina S, Slamka MR. Strategies for coping with time-related and productivity challenges of young people with learning disabilities and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Children (Basel). 2019;6(2):28. doi:10.3390/children6020028

  2. National Institutes of Health. The Pomodoro Technique: An effective time management tool.

  3. Sutton H. Stay focused and reduce stress while working from home, meeting virtually. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners. 2020;23(1):8-9. doi:10.1002/nsr.30653

  4. Francesco Cirillo. The Pomodoro Technique.

  5. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. How to use the Pomodoro Technique.

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.