In today’s world, productivity is king. We are all looking for ways to focus ourselves and our time, while navigating a never-ending bombardment of distractions.
One method that I have found to be most useful is the Pomodoro Technique. In this article, I will list out the Pomodoro Technique pros and cons.
After reading, I think you will find, like I do, that the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
In the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo developed a time management technique while studying in college. It is named for the tomato-shaped or pomodoro-shaped (in Italian) kitchen timer that he used.
The Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to create intervals of time for working. One of the advantages of the Pomodoro Technique is that it can help people concentrate all of their attention on one task for an interval of time.
After that interval of time is up, the person gets a short break. You then repeat these steps.
The goal of the Pomodoro technique is to increase focus, flow, and attention, and to decrease wasted time, interruptions of workflow, and fatigue.
As someone with diagnosed ADD, I began using the method years ago even before my diagnosis. What I found was that I was better able to focus my attention on a task for an interval of time when I knew how much time I was devoting to each task.
It helped me to find clarity in what task I was doing, instead of getting lost in many tasks at one time. The simple breaks between tasks assisted me with attention fatigue and kept me from being bored by my tasks.
How Does The Pomodoro Technique Work?
The Pomodoro Technique is very easy to begin implementing in your own life. You just need your phone and a timer app to begin using the method.
There are six steps that Francesco Cirillo developed in his original method. Here they are:
- Choose a task that needs to be completed.
- Use a timer by setting it to 25 minutes.
- Start the timer and work on the task, and only that task, for the full 25 minutes.
- Stop working on the task when the timer goes off.
- Place a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, then take a 3-5 minutes break and begin working on the task again. If you completed that task, return to step one and begin another task.
- After you have completed four intervals of 25 minutes – aka marked four checkmarks, take a longer break that is 15- 20 minutes.
A positive of the Pomodoro Technique and working through one full round of work, or four checkmarks, is that you easily focus on a task at hand for almost two hours of time.
I once heard an artist say that you get only two hours of good work a day that is it, so use them wisely. I have often agreed with this, as I have found my creativity, focus, and flow are usually best for just about two hours of my day, and then I can easily fatigue.
This is why I find this method of working so wonderful. It really helps to promote your most creative and energetic time of work a day.
I also find that if I worked in a flow state and feel accomplished for two hours, I am so much happier with my work, rather than working distracted for 8 hours.
Pomodoro Technique Alternatives
I have been a stay-at-home mom, and now I am work-from-home mom. This method has helped me greatly during both of these periods of my life.
I believe this is especially relevant as so many people are working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic. The Pomodoro Technique can be very useful for home-life balance.
When you are working in your home, you have to find ways to separate your household chores and your work duties. I often feel the most overwhelmed with my home duties and work engagements when I am trying to jump back and forth between them over and over again.
That is why I started using this method a few years ago to help me from feeling so overwhelmed.
Sample Pomodoro Method For Housework
To give you an idea of how to implement the Pomodoro Method for housework, I put together this sample step by step schedule.
- Choose a task that needs to be completed.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes and begin the timer and the task.
- Work on this task and this task only for the full 25 minutes. I do this a lot with laundry, cleaning dishes, and tidying my house.
- When the timer goes off, completely STOP working on the task.
- Do not return to the task until tomorrow.
- Enjoy a short five-minute break before moving onto the next chore or end your chores for the day.
As someone who is not very fond of household chores, I also had a very hard time keeping up due to my ADD. This alternative of the Pomodoro Technique has been instrumental for me in finding purpose, less stress, and dare I even say, some joy in the daily household chores!
The difference for me came with first giving myself complete focus on one task, instead of jumping from task to task and feeling overwhelmed. Frankly, I was not getting much done on anything.
I also gave myself permission to quit after one 25-minute round. This made me feel like I was doing positive work, but I wasn’t spending all day, every day completing chores.
I also found that it created efficiency for me where just 25-minutes a day made such a dent in my chores that it became all I needed to keep up with the home.
For example, now every morning I spend 25 minutes on laundry right after getting dressed and before I either start work or leave the house with the kids. The 25 minutes usually consists of starting one load of laundry, folding one load, and putting that load away. That is all I do.
But that simple dedicated 25 minutes now keeps our family’s laundry running smoothly, and I don’t spend three hours on one particular day doing multiple loads of laundry, feeling overwhelmed and just hating my tasks.
Now, my kids know I do the laundry and they get to watch one episode of a show of their choosing while I enjoy the time I spend working on this task.
Pros Of The Pomodoro Technique
Now that you know what the Pomodoro Technique is and how to implement it. It’s time to discuss the Pomodoro Technique pros and cons. Let’s start with the advantages of the Pomodoro Technique.
Easy To Implement
My favorite benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is that it is so easy to implement with your phone’s timer and you can start right now if you want to.
I encourage you to try it on even just a simple task like checking your email or doing the dishes.
Promotes Your Most Creative And Energetic Work
Although we would all like to be flow-state powerhouses every day, that is just not how our brains work. Most people have just a few hours of their highest quality work each day.
This method of taking advantage of your most highly productive and creative period can take this time to the next level for you. One way to do this is by paying attention to your most productive time of the day.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When do I feel most alert, centered, or excited to work?
- At what time of the day do I naturally seem to do my best work?
- When does it make the most sense for me in my schedule to block out two hours for interval-timed work?
Once you have discovered your best time of day for work, use the Pomodoro Technique during this time to yield the most productive and creative work.
Makes Larger Projects More Manageable
The 25-minute intervals can help you breakdown larger projects into more digestible and less overwhelming tasks. You will accomplish so much more in these highly focused intervals.
Encourages Focus And Discourages Distraction
This is huge in a time when iPhones and emails are constantly dinging. We are expected to be in touch with people within seconds of reaching out.
It is just all too easy to be distracted by technology. I like to give myself permission to let all other things go in those 25 minutes.
I do not answer my phone, even a text, during that time. The reason why is that as soon as I do I take myself out of the concentrated flow state.
That is what the intervals are for – to permit us to be completely engrossed and present in what we are doing. A rare fete in our times.
Allows Time For Ideas To Resonate
Short breaks allow your mind to rest, which in turn leads to great ideas! It is kind of the same idea of why suddenly you are in the shower and have a moment of pure clarity about something you should do or say or an idea you have.
When you are in the shower, you typically have nothing else going on. You are just in the shower alone and being – literally just being – and poof the ideas flow.
Think about that! Your creative brain is given a break from the bombardment of ideas all around it, and it has a second to go deeper within.
This is why I love the practice of meditation and yoga, as well. When we give our brains a break from the distraction we usually come back with many more creative, clear, and beautiful ideas.
Try using your breaks for quick meditations or breathing exercises. I have several free meditations here.
Cons Of The Pomodoro Technique
That’s the list of Pomodoro Technique pros, let’s review the list of Pomodoro Technique cons.
Breaks Are Distracting
For some people, if you are in a state of flow you may not want to take breaks. Or, if you are a person that can easily concentrate for long periods of time, you may not want to take breaks in your work.
I encourage you then to use a Pomodoro Technique variation to suit you, by possibly extending your intervals into longer periods. Try 50 minutes of work and 10 minutes of break time.
After 50 minutes of concentrated work, your brain will be happy for the break. Or, skip and take a break after an hour and a half and take an extended break for 20 minutes.
It Takes A Lot Of Discipline
Many times, when that timer goes off I want to keep going, but I became disciplined enough to make myself stop. I found that wanting to keep working became a blessing.
I was leaving wanting more, and let me tell you, what a shock that was to start wanting to keep folding laundry. But, that is what keeps you showing up the next day.
It makes the tasks less of a chore and creates more contentment around them.
You Are Interrupted A Lot At Your Job
If you work a job where you are expected to take client’s calls on a whim or if your approval is needed at work often, finding dedicated time to work for intervals can be difficult.
I suggest creating one to two hours each day where your employees know you are in your “office hours”. During this time, their questions can be sent via email and will be answered after.
Though this may be stressful to implement at the beginning, what it will do is train your employees to then make sure that they come to you with any pressing matters before your office time starts.
Once they get the hang of how you manage your time, they too will begin managing their time accordingly. This will be beneficial for you because being there for everyone at all times is a sure way to find yourself in burnout.
Who Can Benefit From The Pomodoro Technique?
There are many people in this world that might find the Pomodoro technique useful. Here you will find a list of a few types of people that could benefit from using it.
People With ADD Or ADHD
If you have Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder staying on any one task for some time can be very difficult.
As someone with diagnosed ADD as an adult, this method of working helped me so much. The intervals are short enough that it is a bit easier to concentrate.
Plus, one of the symptoms of these disorders is that it is hard to start a task. It is also easy to feel overwhelmed when there are a lot of tasks to do.
By giving myself permission to pick a task and focus on only that one task, I found I was a lot less overwhelmed. Plus, the breaks allow those with ADHD to get up and move often, which is important for them to have time to do.
Work From Home Parents
When you are working from home you face duties and tasks that need to be done in the home and at work. I often found myself choosing one over the other and then feeling guilty about it on those days.
That is why I began using this technique and creating daily schedules for myself that made sense. For me, if I do 25 minutes of laundry in the morning before work, then I feel I have given my home some time.
I have also more easily permitted myself for work intervals of time as well. I found this balance by trial and error.
But, what I found most was that when I tried to run around doing both tasks simultaneously, nothing was ever complete. I was extremely stressed out.
The Pomodoro Technique gave me so much freedom for concentration, less guilt, and happiness in whatever tasks I was doing.
People Who Are Easily Distracted By Their Phone
I found the Pomodoro Technique such a great insight into how easily distracted I am by my phone.
There was a sense that if it dings for any reason – a social media update, a news announcement, text from a friend, or a new email I was immediately ready to pounce on it and see what it was.
It was impulsive, and it felt like my phone controlled my time. There is a lot to learn about how tech companies actually train us to be this way.
If you haven’t watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, please do! It is eye-opening.
A pro to using the Pomodoro Technique is starting to undo these habits that we have gotten into with our phones. Staying away from our phone for 25 minutes can be beneficial for our wellbeing.
It can be hard at first to not check it for 25 minutes at a time, but I think you find in time it becomes a freeing experience.
You will work so much more efficiently, without the distraction of your phone taking you away from your work constantly.
Why I Recommend The Pomodoro Technique
When looking at the Pomodoro Technique pros and cons, I find that even the cons though they may be difficult to implement at first, can only benefit people in the long run.
As a wellness counselor and yoga teacher, mindfulness is the key technique that I teach in all my classes, and with all my clients. Finding mindfulness is a way of finding purpose and clarity in our lives.
The Pomodoro Technique is just about being mindful. It is about training yourself to be present with the task that you are participating in. By using the Pomodoro Technique, you will find less scattered thoughts and experiences, and more mindful focus.
The Pomodoro Technique began for me as a way to learn to be less overwhelmed. It became a foundation of focus and practicing mindfulness in daily life that brings more meaning, contentment, and joy in my life.
I absolutely recommend trying the Pomodoro Technique. Give it a week or so and see how it can change the way you perform your tasks, and how it brings mindfulness and peace into your life.