Thursday, September 26, 2013

How a tomato can help you focus

I've been using the Pomodoro Technique off and on for the past couple of years, but have finally made it a daily habit, and I can feel the effects.

In case you haven't heard of it, here's the Wikipedia page for an overview, and a discussion of the technique as applied to the life of researchers

Here are the basics.

1) Make a list of all the tasks you have to do today (you won't get through all, so don't worry about it including EVERYTHING that's on your plate)

2) Start a 25-minute timer (tomato shaped or not...I use a YouTube video of a timer, but there are many aps, etc., too)

3) Work on a single task until it's done or the 25 minutes are up.

4) When the 25 minutes are up, record that you finished one pomodoro (that's the noun for the 25-min period) and take a 5-minute break. NO WORK!

5) Repeat

6) After your 4th pomodoro, take a 15 minute break 

If you go further into the program, you might find it helpful to record interruptions (both those that come from outside, and interrupting yourself). The program's author also recommends reviewing your own data over time.

FYI: I've written this post over the course of 3 5-minute breaks.


-Makes sure you break, which is good for energy level and avoiding repetitive stress problems, as well as just keeping on track (like pacing yourself when running or counting reps/sets while working out).

-If you record, it lets you review your progress over time (but it's helpful if you even just do it without recording)

-Makes jobs you don't want to do more tollerable

-In some ways, it's much easier than recording the number of min/hours that you work.


-Doesn't really help set priorities per se, and doesn't help you handle incoming information. I'll post more about the GTD program I've found helpful for that.

-Can be hard to get used to (but any discipline is). You want to keep working when you're supposed to stop, and you'll forget to record your time initially

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