Updated: Aug 17
We are huge fans of the Pomodoro Technique for time management while working. This method is great for just about anyone and can work exceptionally well for those with attention challenges.
The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in 1980 and is named after the tomato timer that he used to manage his intervals of work.
HOW IT WORKS
The technique works like this: do a task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Once you have done four tasks like this (after 2 hours), you take a slightly longer break for 15-30 minutes. This technique allows you to focus during your 25-minute tasks and lets your brain relax and recover during your breaks. It can work wonders in terms of focus and productivity for some people!
This technique allows less interruption during focus time since you know that you will be able to deal with whatever else is trying to grab your attention once the 25 minutes is up. Small blocks of work/focus time like this help significantly with flow.
Planning your day and creating the list of tasks you need to complete is a huge part of this method. Ideally, you should be able to separate your tasks into approximate 25-minute increments. If you are working on a project that will take significantly more time to complete, break the project up into steps so that you can manage each part in 25-minute intervals. This planning phase creates your to-do list for the day which than is time blocked into 25-minute intervals. This allows you to see what all you need to accomplish during the day and allows you to adjust and prioritize high-value tasks.
You should track and record the progress of your intervals on a to-do list so you can check off each task as you finish it. The physical activity of checking off tasks is a form of positive reinforcement, reminding you know you are on the right track.
I also want to note that you don’t have to do exactly 25 and 5-minute intervals. The goal with this method is to plan your tasks and do intervals on and short periods off. You can adjust the time periods to your specific needs as well as the types of projects you work on. For instance, if you need more flow state focus time for bigger or deeper projects, you may consider doing 60 minutes on and 10 minutes off. Alternatively, there have been studies that suggest that 90 minutes is a standard concentration cycle (high-frequency brain activity) and 20 minutes is the standard rest period between cycles (lower frequency brain activity) so intervals split into those timeframes may work better for you.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
You need a timer and some tasks to accomplish and that's about it. We suggest trying out a free online tool such as TomatoTimers.com which allows you to start a timer in your browser window. If you want to invest in a physical timer, we have listed some that we love below.