The Pomodoro Technique: How to Use it To Optimise Productivity

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Are you the kind of person who needs a deadline to finish a task? We have all been there, when we waited for the night before the due date to start working on our homework, when we started studying the night before an exam, when we added a finishing touch to a slide just a few hours before the presentation. Do you like to work under that “pressure“, which is not really pressure per se but a thing that peps you up? The Pomodoro Technique might work for you!


What is the Pomodoro technique?

It is a time management technique devised by an Italian man named Francesco Cirillo, in the 1980s.

It works along the following lines:

  • Decide upon the task.
  • Set up a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work on the task with as much focus as you can for those 25 minutes.
  • When the timer ends, take a break for 2-3 minutes, and also make a note about that chunk of task you did.
  • If the task remains unfinished, reset the timer to 25 minutes, and repeat the process for three more times before taking a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

Basically, you work with full concentration for approximately 25 minutes, take a 2-3 minutes break, and repeat. If the task is likely to go on, take a 15-20 minute break after 4 such rounds.


The name of the technique has a somewhat idiosyncratic, but interesting origin story. The word “pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato”. Cirillo worked using a tomato shaped timer, and hence the name. One set of 25 minutes is called one pomodoro.

A timer is thus an important requirement. Of course, you don’t need to work with a tomato shaped timer. Any timer would do. (Although, working with a tomato shaped timer does sound fun…)



  • As it is evident, the Pomodoro Technique is the way to go for people who love to work with deadlines, and those who would otherwise procrastinate until the last minute.
  • The constant ticking of the timer can boost you to actually finish the task. Haven’t we all worked almost miraculously fast when we have a flight to catch?
  • The division in chunks, and the 2-3 minute break can help us work mindfully. The small breather is just what one needs to not over-work.
  • Plus, there is the longer 15-20 break which can aid you to refresh your mind in between your “work” time. This can boost creativity, problem solving and strategising.
  • The Pomodoro Technique is great if you want to add a sense of rhythm to your to-do list or an overall bigger task
  • Due to the timer and the chunking, the technique can help one accomplish a seemingly humongous task, the kind of task when we aren’t sure where we should begin from.


Not that there aren’t any problems…

  • For people who like to work at their own pace, this method can put unnecessary pressure. It can actually divert the attention from the task to the ticking timer. The pro becomes the con.
  • The method is pretty good for administrative and managerial tasks, and tasks involving paperwork. It might not work too well where there is a need for undivided attention, like research, analyses, mathematical tasks, etc.
  • The 25 minutes should ideally be uninterrupted. But in a much more realistic sense, can we expect that? Phones, emails, faxes are common “interruptions” in an office. Imagine you have just got into the “zone” and as you are beginning to catch your rhythm, you get an important client’s phone call.

The method thus isn’t too ideal for multi-tasking.


As many critics of the method  point out, does one really need a timer to pay attention to a task one is trained to do? Of course, the answer could be that it depends from person to person. The debate goes on.

But, the Pomodoro Technique can come in handy when you are looking for the pace to pick up. So, are you ready to compete…with the timer?