What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Italian entrepreneur and innovator Francesco Cirillo created the Pomodoro Technique in the late 1980s. As a university student, Cirillo noticed that he often procrastinated when he really needed to study. He discovered a solution by setting a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to track his studying in intervals referred to as “pomodoros” (Italian for tomatoes).
The idea of the Pomodoro Technique is to break down overwhelming tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, while also incorporating breaks in between. The goal is to reduce fear and distractions, prevent burnout, and help you to get work done more efficiently.
Here are the steps of the Pomodoro Technique:
- Choose an important task you need to complete
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (one Pomodoro)
- Focus entirely on that one task until the time is up
- Take a small break
- Repeat steps 1-4 for four Pomodoros
After completing four Pomodoros, you can reward yourself with a longer break before you continue the next round.
Timing your tasks in this way holds you more accountable. It’s also been found that regular breaks in between work can provide a renewed sense of energy and motivation. Some suggestions of what you can do during Pomodoro breaks include brewing a cup of coffee, taking a walk outside, or reading a book.
Note that when using the Pomodoro Technique, it’s important to write down your tasks on a piece of paper and check them off once you’re done. Record any thoughts or distractions you may have faced during each Pomodoro, along with how much work you’ve accomplished. Finally, keep in mind how you can continuously improve your future rounds of Pomodoros and more productively plan your workdays.
How Does the Pomodoro Technique Help Entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs face a plethora of responsibilities and distractions every day. It can be challenging for them to maintain a work-life balance. The Pomodoro Technique makes difficult tasks more attainable when it only requires working on one at a time for 25-minute intervals. Here are some quotes from people who have used the Pomodoro Technique to help them focus on their businesses:
“I frequently utilize the Pomodoro Technique, which involves choosing a task, setting a timer for 25 minutes, and then giving yourself 5 minutes to evaluate your progress. Many of my employees have tried this technique and agree it is a great way to eliminate distractions and really hone in on a project that is high priority.” --Kat Cohen, Founder of IvyWise
“When any of us see a tomato emoji in the Slack status of one of our teammates, we know they're involved in an intensive, 25-minute Pomodoro session that we shouldn't interrupt unless absolutely necessary. The tomato emoji also signals to us that under normal circumstances, we shouldn't expect a response to an earlier communication until we notice the tomato emoji has been cleared, signaling our teammate's Pomodoro session has ended.” --Shama Hyder, CEO of ZenMedia
“I use Pomodoro to help me get through the tasks I really don’t want to do — it’s a lot easier to make yourself do something when you know you only have to dedicate 25 minutes to it now and can come back to it later if necessary. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re making progress towards your own goals.” --Lisa M. Butler, Founder of Elembeee
Essentially, the Pomodoro Technique comes with several benefits for entrepreneurs such as:
- Increasing concentration
- Improving work-life balance
- Preventing burnout
- Boosting productivity
Is the Pomodoro Technique Right for You?
The Pomodoro technique may be right for you if you are easily distracted, need to meet important deadlines for specific tasks, or try to do everything all at once, resulting in poor outcomes.
However, nothing is perfect, and the Pomodoro Technique may not be right for everyone; learning and working styles are unique. It may take some time and patience to master, but if you aren’t seeing any benefits, you can either tailor the technique to better fit you or find a different strategy altogether.
Pomodoro Technique Alternatives:
- The Action Method: a productivity system geared toward creative professionals. It was created by the online platform, Behance.
- Getting Things Done: a time-management method involving five simple steps. It was created by David Allen, a productivity consultant, and author.
- Don’t Break the Chain: a calendar system designed to develop consistent, daily actions. It was created by writer and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.