PRODUCTIVITY: Maximizing 25 minutes using the tomato technique

On an average day, a long list of tasks can appear strenuous with only 24 hours at hand. More so, the fact that the said timeframe has sleeping, eating, and leisure in between makes it more impossible to utilize it and tick our to-do list.

With that, seeing the title might have you wondering if it is really possible to accomplish so much in a stretch of a few minutes. According to the technique, called the “Pomodoro Technique”, it is doable. This process lets people maximize their time through focus and flow: 25 minutes work, five minutes rest, repeat.

Created in the late 80s by then-college student Francesco Cirillo, it was named “pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used when he formulated it. This technique imposes just the right amount of work time to avoid feeling drained, and on the other hand, teaches users to limit, but not fully eliminate, distractions (social media, etc.).

The Pomodoro Technique works in four to six steps:

  1. Plan. Jot down all the tasks you need to accomplish in your day.
  2. Timer. Ready your timer and set it to 25 minutes.
  3. Work. Work on your chosen task until the timer rings.
  4. Check. Tick the box on your to-do list once you’re done with a particular task. You can also use different legends to signify you have started on a particular task and continue with it once your break is done (e.g. a diagonal line on the box if started, box fully shaded if task is done).
  5. Rest. Set your timer to 5 minutes and put down your phone and other work materials to simply rest your mind for a particular time.
  6. Extension. Once you have ticked four boxes (which means you’re done with 4 Pomodoros*), extend your next break to 15 to 30 minutes.

*1 Pomodoro = 1 session of 25-minute work

Handling interruptions

When working, interruptions, may it be in the form of people, calls, or even pets, are inevitable. Though this technique encourages zoning out anything that comes your way, it still offers other steps to brush off interruptions on your 25-minute hustles.

  1. Inform the people around you that you are working on something and you need undivided attention.
  2. Negotiate a time when you can get back to them.
  3. Schedule a follow-up if break is about to finish.
  4. Call back on the person once you’re done with your Pomodoro session.

However, you must remember that this technique is indivisible as it aims for people to practice focus and flow. Abandon your session if something urgent comes up and start from the beginning. If not, use the four methods of negotiation mentioned above.

Apps and tools

Your mobile phone’s timer can act as your companion in doing this technique. However, Cirillo still advises a manual timer, a pen, and a paper in doing your sessions since it is a universal fact that mobile phones can be huge distractions. But if you think you are disciplined enough to use one, you can freely do so. Here are some mobile, desktop, and web applications that you can use:

  1. App Store: Be Focused, Focus Keeper, Tide, Flat Tomato, PomoFocus
  2. Play Store: Tide, Just Focus, Pomodoro Timer, Simple Pomodoro, ClearFocus
  3. Desktop/Mac: Tomighty
  4. Web: Marinara Timer, Tomato-Timer, Moosti

SOURCES: 1, 2, 3, 4