More Productivity, Less Stress, With the Pomodoro Method

I said this post would be about ‘tomatoes,’ and if you’re familiar with popular productivity methods, you may have guessed that I was alluding to the Pomodoro timer technique.

Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, and the technique was invented my Francesco Cirillo, who used a tomato-shaped household timer when he developed his technique.

The idea is simple. By breaking up complex or overwhelming tasks into uninterrupted, 25-minute work sessions, you can focus on the work without distraction, so you make the best use of your time.

You’re also less likely to be overwhelmed, because you only have to focus on the one work session ahead, knowing a break is coming soon. It also helps you assess how many 25-minute sessions, or ‘Pomodoros” it takes you to complete a certain task.

Although the technique is formed around 25-minute sessions, in practice you can use longer or shorter sessions, depending on the needs of the project, your attention span, and your life. You can use a kitchen timer, the timer on your phone, or one of several online tools.

You can learn more about how to use the Pomodoro method, and access a digital Pomodoro timer, at

Though it was developed for study and work purposes, you can use it for any task you need to face in small steps. If, like me, you dread everyday tasks like housework or paperwork, this method works great. You set the timer, get as much done as you can, then you’re done.

The method is often used in multiple sessions. You complete one session, take a short break, then start another. But you can also do just one at a time. 

I find it amazing how much I can get done in even 15 minutes sometimes, and when you spend too much time on one work session, productivity goes down, and resistance increases.

Conversely, when time is limited you’re more likely to dive in and to get more done than you thought.

So if you haven’t tried it yet I suggest you give the Pomodoro technique a try, and see how much you can get done, painlessly.

Next time I’ll talk about another productivity method based on somewhat similar principles, called “can I just…?”

And thanks to everyone who supported my 5-day Words Matter Week Challenge last week. It was more work than I would want to do every week, but also a lot of fun.