Struggling to complete a bigger project? Try the Pomodoro method.

We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a project you’re struggling to make headway on, or maybe there’s a set of circumstances distracting you from being productive. Whatever it is, don’t stress about not being able to focus – instead, try a new technique.  

In this issue of the Pulse, we take a look at one method to help boost productivity, the Pomodoro Method. Or, if you translate it from Italian, the Tomato Method!  

What is the Pomodoro Method? 

According to Todoist, “the Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by then university student Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo was struggling to focus on his studies and complete assignments. Feeling overwhelmed, he asked himself to commit to just 10 minutes of focused study time. Encouraged by the challenge, he found a tomato shaped kitchen timer, and the Pomodoro technique was born.” 

You might have heard of the Pomodoro method before because several different versions of it are becoming very popular both online and in student circles.  

The method asks its users to alternate between focused work sessions while also enjoying frequent breaks to promote concentration and prevent fatigue or defeatism.  

Who is the Pomodoro Method best for? 

While anyone can use this method, it’s particularly helpful for those who: 

  • Find little distractions can derail their whole workday.  
  • Work past the point of optimal productivity – meaning, they don’t know when to stop. 
  • Have many open-ended tasks that they can easily sink many hours into, like writing, research, etc.  
  • Have set too much for themselves to accomplish in a given day.  
  • Enjoy gamifying their work processes.  

If any of these sound like you, the Pomodoro Method might be worth a try.  

Try the Pomodoro Method in five steps.  

  1. Pick a task – one task that you’re committing to working on for the length of this exercise.  
  2. Set a timer – the standard recommendation is 25 minutes.  
  3. Work on your chosen task until the timer is up.  
  4. Once the timer is up, take a small break – between two to five minutes – and then repeat.  
  5. Every four to five repetitions, allow yourself a longer, but still structured, break. 

In addition to these five simple steps, Francesco Cirillo – who also went on to publish a book about his method – offers three suggestions to get the most out of each work session: 

  • Break down complex projects into smaller, actionable steps. 
  • Combine the simplest, shortest tasks into one Pomodoro – or timed session.  
  • Follow through with the timer no matter what comes up – ideas, tasks, or requests that come up should be taken note of to come back to later 

These steps and best practices combined should lead to productivity without burnout!  

Why does the Pomodoro Method work? 

In short, the Pomodoro Method is successful because of its simplicity. It requires very little setup, making it easy to get started, and allowing for the breakup of intimidating, larger projects.  

Another reason why the Pomodoro Method tends to be helpful is that is recognizes that distractions are inevitable, and instead of trying to compel you to push through them, allows you to channel them into an organized structure. This can be especially successful for people with attention deficits or a distracting environment, where pushing through distraction takes too much mental energy.  

Even for chronic procrastinators, this method can help revamp your workday. Researchers have found that procrastination is linked to avoidance, uncertainty, and negative feelings, rather than laziness or lack of self-control. Breaking down projects into smaller steps makes it easier to get started.  

In conclusion… 

We all have days where distractions are abundant and it’s harder to get work done. The Pomodoro Method is one tool in your tool belt for combatting distractions and being productive without stressing yourself out.