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How To Use The Pomodoro Technique for Better Focus – Updated for 2023

the pomodoro technique

The deliciously simple way to a mindfully productive day

Updated September 6, 2023

If you’ve been around our blog for a while, you’ve probably heard us talk about the Pomodoro technique as an effective time management strategy, and how it can help you build a healthy working routine that fosters focus and productivity. 

But if you think it’s just another productivity fad, think again. 

The Pomodoro method promises improved productivity, increased mental focus, and a creativity boost.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

Based on a time management philosophy that originated from the mind of Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a simple tool that helps its practitioners separate their work into manageable chunks and get things done. 

Cirillo came up with the method when struggling to focus on his studies as a university student. Feeling overwhelmed one evening, he committed himself to just ten minutes of focused study. To help him in this challenge, he found a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (pomodoro is Italian for tomato), set it to ring after ten minutes, and crushed the short study session. 

The Pomodoro method was born. 

Since then, millions of people have used this technique to build productive, focused, and even enjoyable workdays. >Argentinian entrepreneur Brian Condenanza credits Pomodoro, coupled with Freedom, with helping him through distraction-free work sessions.

It sounds just a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? The genius of this technique really lies in its simplicity. 

minimalist simple desk with keyboard, watch, notebook and coffee mug.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works:

1. Select one task to work on
2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
2. Work until the timer rings
4. When the timer rings, take a five-minute break
5. Repeat
6. After every 4 Pomodoros, take a 15-minute break

This technique allows you to work in short bursts of time with breaks in between, boosting your motivation and drive as you complete one task after another. Pomodoro sessions discourage multitasking (which drains your productivity and leads to distraction and fatigue) and force you to concentrate on one thing at a time

All in all, the Pomodoro technique promises improved productivity, increased mental focus, and a creativity boost to those who use it—benefits that appeal to many of us. 

When we set the timer for each Pomodoro session, time changes from an abstract concept to a concrete, measurable event.
We learn to work with time, not against it. 

What makes the Pomodoro Technique so effective?

If you’re still not convinced to give this approach a try, take a look at the following reasons that make the Pomodoro Method one of the most productive time management tools with which to organize your workday. 

  • It helps reduce burnout and mental fatigue: With short scheduled breaks following each focused work or study session, the Pomodoro technique gives your brain the time it needs to refresh, rejuvenate, and continue operating at peak productivity.
  • It makes you aware of where your time has gone: It’s easy to fall into the planning fallacy, where we over- or underestimate the time it takes us to actually accomplish certain tasks. When we set the timer for each Pomodoro session, time changes from an abstract concept to a concrete, measurable event, helping us plan accurately and work effectively. We learn to work with time, not against it. 
  • It focuses on consistency, not perfection: The pressure to be perfect can paralyze us. With the Pomodoro method, however, each session is a chance to improve on the previous one. Before each session, take some time to reevaluate goals, challenge yourself to focus better, and limit distractions even further. And because it puts such an emphasis on consistency, its habit-building nature puts the Pomodoro on our list of favorite productivity techniques.
  • It helps you “get into the flow”: If you’ve ever been distracted while in a flow state, you know just how hard it is to refocus on your task. And although we might want to blame our inability to focus on external factors, studies suggest that more than half of our workday distractions are self-inflicted. The Pomodoro helps you resist these distractions by dedicating set times to focused work, and breaks afterward for dealing with interruptions. 
  • It’s easy to get started: Despite its popularity, the Pomodoro technique is nothing fancy. It’s simply a method that helps you break down intimidating tasks into 25-minute increments. Then, you just tackle them one at a time! Doing something small for a short period of time is a pretty solid procrastination-busting strategy compared to a more haphazard way of approaching scary goals. Pomodoros help you focus on what you need to do now instead of getting overwhelmed by all the other things you need to get done. 
Circle of tomatoes on a yellow background representing a clock timer for the pomodoro technique

How to Pomodoro

Pomodoro sessions help you stop wasting time by giving each 25-minute session a dedicated task or purpose. But how do we get started, or perhaps, more importantly, find the drive to build this practice into a productive work habit?

As the creator of this time management technique notes,

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

Francesco Cirillo

With that as our motivation, here are some tips for successfully getting through each Pomo session:

Plan Pomodoros into your day: Take a few minutes at the start of each workday to plan your Pomodoro times, matching sessions to tasks that fit the flow of your energy and motivations throughout the workday. If possible, jot down potential distractions you might come across, and note how you will deal with them (perhaps during the breaks between sessions?). 

Break down complex tasks: If a project requires more than four Pomodoro sessions, break it down into smaller, actionable tasks to help ensure you make clear progress. 

Practice “batching”: Small tasks that take less than one Pomodoro should be combined with other simple tasks. Reading an article, sending an invoice, and setting your dentist’s appointment could all be included in a single Pomo session.

Note distractions, but don’t give in to them (yet): If you’re distracted at any time during a Pomo session, write it down to revisit later. Distractions don’t belong in a Pomodoro session; and with the automatic breaks scheduled after each session, you’ll know you can deal with them soon enough. 

Finished early? Keep working: If you’ve overestimated the time it takes you to complete a single task in a Pomo session, use the remaining minutes for other focused tasks, such as improving a specific skill or reading up on a new trend within your professional field. 

Experiment with different tomato sizes: If you’re feeling exhausted after 25 minutes of steady work, or if you need more than 20 minutes to get yourself “in the zone”, don’t feel pressured to follow a strict 25-minute work, 5-minute break rule. Play with different lengths of Pomodoro sessions and use what works best for you. 

Be serious about the breaks: Your eyes, mind, and fingers need to relax and refresh themselves after each hardworking Pomo session. When the timer rings, step away from your work (actually get away from your desk) and do something fun for a few minutes. Enjoy a quick snack, meditate, tidy up your workspace, or take a walk to get those creative juices flowing again. 

table filled with small colorful clock timers

Apps to do Pomodoro with 

Building new habits or routines can be hard—that’s why we should take advantage of tools that can help us. 

Here are the apps we’ve tried and tested for building a strong and focused Pomodoro routine into your workdays. Experiment to see which works for you!

  • The Marinara Timer: A strict Pomodoro rhythm—25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break on repeat—may not be a good fit for some of us. If that’s you, the customizable Marinara timer might provide just the right amount of flexibility while keeping you accountable, focused, and productive.
  • Pomotodo: More than just another timer app, Pomotodo is a combination of the Pomodoro Technique and GTD theory. It’s basically a to-do list with an integrated Pomodoro timer that helps you estimate how long tasks will take by setting reminders and splitting large tasks into individual tomato-sized pieces. 
  • Flat Tomato: This beautifully designed, minimalistic timer is for people who want to avoid distractions and actually get things done. Gorgeous color themes and a user-friendly calendar complement this sleek and practical app. 

Building new habits or routines can be hard—that’s why we should take advantage of tools and techniques that can help us.

Using Freedom with the Pomodoro technique

Freedom and the Pomodoro method share the same core values of monotasking, reducing distractions, and building mindful productivity into your work life. 

Pairing the Pomodoro time management technique with Freedom gives you the power couple of productivity. Here’s how: 

1. Block distractions for each session:

Freedom allows you to block digital distractions for a set amount of time, such as 25 minutes. Free from pesky notifications and tempting websites, focus single-mindedly at the task you’ve set for yourself in the Pomo session. 

2. Schedule recurring Pomodoro sessions:

Freedom can help you make productive Pomodoro sessions a habit by scheduling them directly into your workday. By making focused sessions a regular part of your workday, you’ll build your ability to focus better. Pair these sessions with Freedom’s free Pomodoro length Focus Music tracks, available on this YouTube playlist, for an even more focused yet relaxed Pomo session.

Row of cherry tomatoes on a wall outside in a green garden

What Does Your Perfect Pomodoro Look Like?

By blocking off specific time slots for work and breaks, the Pomodoro Technique helps you create a better work-life balance, find your flow, and increase productivity. 
As you learn to concentrate on tasks single-mindedly in bite-sized increments, you’ll soon realize that the Pomodoro method is really another form of practicing mindfulness at work. It’s the perfect addition to a mindfully productive routine. So go forth and pick a task, set the timer, and get to work! 🍅