Do you find that your productivity fluctuates from one day to the next? Some days, you crush your tasks at work and home but other days, no matter how many hours you put in, you just can’t seem to get things done.

This article explores the Pomodoro Technique®, a simple method that improves your productivity and protects your health by encouraging you to schedule regular short breaks into your day.  The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s.  The technique works by getting you to structure your work in 25-minute sessions (or you could experiment up to 90 minutes based on research of our daily biological cycles) each separated by a short break. Each 25-minute session is one “pomodoro.” When you complete one, take a five-minute break before embarking on the next. When you have completed four “pomodori,” take a longer break to rest and recharge.

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique

Step 1: Check Your Schedule

Your first step is to check your schedule. Look at your To-Do List and think about what you need to do today. Estimate how long each task should take you, in terms of the number of pomodori (25-minute sessions) you will need to complete it.  Don’t forget to schedule in time for your breaks: five minutes for each session completed, plus a longer 20- to 30-minute break at a natural stopping point.

Step 2: Set Your Timer

Before you start, make sure that you have everything you need to begin on your tasks.  Set your timer for the work period you’ve settled on (there is even a Pomodoro app you can download on your phone). As you set your timer, make a commitment to work only on the task at hand.  In your rest break, you can return phone calls or chat with colleagues. With this in mind, do what you can to minimize interruptions.

Step 3: Work on Your Task, and Only That Task

Devote all of your attention to the task at hand for the duration of the session. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted if ideas or thoughts about other tasks pop into your head. Write these down on your notepad and then set them aside for later. If necessary, you can adjust your schedule to work on them in the next session but, for now, stick with what you should be doing. If you complete your work before your time is up, use the remaining time for routine activities, or for other short tasks. It’s a good idea to make a note of how many pomodori each scheduled task takes you, so that you can use this for future planning – or to compare productivity levels as time goes on.

Step 4: Take a Short Break

When your timer goes off, take a five-minute break. You should do this even if you’re “in flow,” because these breaks are your time to rest and “recharge your batteries.” You may worry that interrupting your work for a break loses time, but regular breaks will restore your energy and improve your productivity to levels that more than make up for any lost time. For maximum benefit, use your breaks to get away from your desk. While you take your break, avoid thinking about what you’ve been working on so far. This is your brain’s chance to absorb what you have learned, so don’t do anything that requires too much thought!

Step 5: Continue Your Work Sessions and Take a Longer Break

When your break is over, reset your timer for the next session and continue your work. When you’ve completed four pomodori, take a 20- to 30-minute break. Use it to go for a walk, eat a healthy snack, have lunch, read a book…anything, so long as it takes you away from your desk for a while and clears your mind of what you were doing before.

What are my thoughts after using the Pomodoro Technique?

  1. Using it to break tasks down into shorter, highly focused work sessions helps you manage your time more effectively, and makes large projects seem less overwhelming.
  2. It also encourages you to minimize distractions, while discouraging multitasking which is extremely hard in today’s fast paced environment
  3. It gives you the opportunity for your brain to rest so you can have “creative thoughts” flow more frequently.
  4. It helps you pace yourself with long days or weeks with projects.
  5. It was hard to not jump at your phone every time you hear an email or social media alert so putting your phone/computer on silent was best for me