Time Management: The Pomodoro Technique

Monday, May 23, 2016

All students, even those who study in the best international schools in Manila, can sometimes encounter troubles when it comes to time management. If you find yourself counted among those who do, then do not fret! The Pomodoro Technique can help you get things done.


But what is it, and what can it do?




Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, but it’s also the name of a time management technique developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. A timer is used to break down work into twenty five minute bursts with five minute breaks after each burst. Cirillo used a tomato-shaped timer used to track his work as a student, and it was where the Pomodoro Technique was named after.



The technique has five stages. Planning, where you decide on your tasks for the day; tracking, the gathering of data on the effort you exerted; recording, keeping note of the progress you made; processing, the conversion of your collected data into usable information; and visualization, and understand the previously acquired information which will help you clear your path to improvement.


The Pomodoro Technique has six steps.


  1. List down the tasks that need to be done.
  2. Set your timer (Pomodoro uses 25 minutes).
  3. Work on your tasks until the timer rings. If you think of a distraction, write it down, and immediately go back your task.
  4. When the timer rings, check all of the tasks that you’re done with.
  5. Take a short break (3-5 minutes), then go back step 1.
  6. Every four pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 mins).




A Pomodoro

The task list is somewhat like a “to do list.” This can help you to estimate the effort you need to put in your task. A pomodoro is the time interval spent working such as the traditional 25 minutes. A short break of three to five minutes separate each pomodoro. Four pomodoros form a set, and a longer break of 15-30 minutes rest is taken between sets. The short bursts of work make sure you are consistently and steadily productive, boost your motivation and your determination in achieving your goals.


When done tasks are recorded, it can give you a sense of accomplishment, and can motivate you toward improvement on the subsequent pomodoros. When you are interrupted in the middle of a pomodoro, you must record the other activity and postpone it, or you must abandon your pomodoro. You cannot divide your pomodoro into chunks, or pause it.  The goal of the technique is to help you power through distractions, and in time, reduce the interruptions to your focus and flow, and improve your work process, attention span, and concentration. The reason why a pomodoro is 25 minutes long is because it seems short enough to make it possible to resist being distracted (Cirillo, 2006).




No to Distractions

You also have to remember that not every distraction or interruption can be postponed. If something requires your immediate attention, abandon your pomodoro and start another one later. But if it doesn’t immediately need your attention, list down the distraction and finish your pomodoro first. This can help you keep your productivity and can avoid disturbing your momentum.


By breaking down the time you need to work and taking frequent but short breaks in between, there is a positive feeling that every time a pomodoro ends, you are on your way to improvement. Instead of stressing over the work, you are positively engaged in your activity. Keep in mind that the Pomodoro helps you focus on your work, not the time.


If you happen to be one of the many students who have trouble with time management, do not be afraid to try it out for yourself! The Pomodoro technique can help you get focused and get through your tasks in no time.

Cirillo, Francesco. “The Pomodoro Technique.” (2008). Web. May 2, 2016.


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