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Monday 23 September 2019

POMODORO - The "Tick-Tock" way to Boost Productivity !

Starting each day with the sole intent of being productive and ending the day with a regret of not having accomplished much - 
Isn't that the story for most of us ?

It's true that making the most of our day in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world is not easy at all and we really need to step up our game to make the best of the day.  But inspite of all our effort, at times using strategies like multitasking or technology, we still can't manage to make it happen.

Any guesses, what could be the reason(s) ? Well, plenty of external factors to blame (like people, circumstances, timing, and so on because according to us, we were always giving our best every day through multitasking and doing everything that comes our way !

What if, on some deep reflection, you discover that the onus to make things happen lay only on you ? Just think that inspite of you being bombarded with requests, orders, and distractions of all kinds, wasn't it still within our control to work out things properly, had we focused and concentrated on the right things, in the right way !!!

Yes, you read it right, FOCUS and CONCENTRATION, did us in, and that's why we couldn't manage to extract the best from the day. Just try and recollect your juggling and shuffling acts  from the day (shifting focus among multiple tasks/ activities) that did not let you give sufficient time to any of the task to ensure its' completion. This cycle keeps getting repeated day after day, leaving us to wonder whether this is how things will ever remain or there's some way to change it !

The good news is that there's definitely a way we could change it and that's what i am going to cover in this post. The tool/ technique that can work magic, in this scenario, is known as POMODORO . Let's look at what it is all about

Definition and Background of Pomodoro

Pomodoro Technique is a time management/ productivity tool that promotes working in a focused manner for a time interval of 25 minutes (as professed mostly), followed by a short break of about 3-5 min. (More will be described in sections below)

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo,,  in the late 1980s ( the first pomodoro in 1987) when Francesco was a student studying in the first year of his college. The Pomodoro Technique was developed out of his need for an effective study method/ technique, as he was passing through a phase of low productivity and high confusion. The term "Pomodoro" is named so because the first timer that the author used was a kitchen timer in the shape of a "tomato".

When to use Pomodoro ?

The Pomodoro is very effective in many situations. For the sake of context, i am mentioning below the four key areas where we struggle most and where Pomodoro technique could help us immensely in addressing the bootlenecks 
  • Procrastination : when we tend to keep postponing important task for some later day 
  • Prioritisation : when we are unable to decide about which tasks/ activities to take up first
  • Productivity : when our efforts do not give proportionate results 
  • Planning : when we constantly set unrealistic timelines

Why to use Pomodoro ?

Few of the key benefits of using Pomodoro are as below :
  • Time 
    • reduce/ remove anxiety
    • manage tasks/ activity better
  • Productivity
    • achieve more with less effort 
    • finish more tasks
  • Establishing right priority
  • Personal Improvement : provides opportunity for
    • self-observation/ self-reflection
    • course correction 

Resources/ Material Needed
Sample of filled in Pomodoro sheets
Source: Internet
  • Timer - electronic or digital
  • Pencil/ Pen
  • Following sheets (printed/ hand drawn)
    • Activity Inventory - This contains the activities as they come up during the day. These are the Unplanned activities. At the end of the day, the activities that have been completed are ticked off.  
    • To Do Today - filled at the start of the day and contains all the tasks/ activities planned for the day, mentioned with priority. This sheet also contains a section called "Unplanned and Urgent" to list all the unexpected tasks (that needs to be addressed) that come up during the day
    • Records - This sheet captures the effort for each task/ activity in terms of the number of Pomodoro. This is update once, usually at the end of the day.

How to implement/ apply Pomodoro ?

Implementing the Pomodoro technique is very simple and consists of the following key steps 
  • Set the timer to 25 minutes for the first Pomodoro 
  • Refer to the "To Do Today" sheet and start with the first activity mentioned
  • Work on the activity till the timer rings
  • Fill the "To Do Today" list by putting a "tick" against the current Pomodoro finished.
  • Take a 3-5 minutes break
  • Start with the next Pomodoro from the list 
  • After 4 Pomodoros, take a 15-30 minutes long break
Now, let's look at an important "IF" scenario
  • If/ When Pomodoro gets Interrupted: It's next to impossible to insulate ourselves from the outside world. There will always be disturbances when we work. While doing Pomodoro, there are 2 kinds of interruptions that may occur and those are :
    • Internal Interruptions - these are self-created/ self-driven distractions imposed by our urges like getting up for water/tea/ snacks, or to call a friend, to look for something, and similar things. To address them, we need to reflect on these to decide whether they are urgent enough to be taken up immediately. If yes, then we need to put an apostrophe (') in the appropriate "To Do Today" sheet and mention them under the "Unplanned and Urgent" section in the "To Do Today" list. In case, they are not urgent, then they get mentioned in the "Activity Inventory" with a U (Unplanned ) alongwith a tentative date mentioned for each of the activity.
    • External Interruptions - these refer to the distractions created by others and may refer to tasks being imposed by others, emails from others, call from  others, and similar ones. When these occur, firstly we need to put a dash (-) against the Pomodoro activity when it happened in the "To Do Today" sheet. Then, based on their level of urgency we address them using the Inform - Negotiate -Call Back" and decide where to place them, whether in the "Unplanned and Urgent" section of "To Do Today" sheet or in the "Activity Inventory" sheet, marked as " U(Unplanned)", just like the way we do with the internal interruptions.    

Where all we can use Pomodoro ?

Pomodoro is a simple yet very powerful technique used both in Individual and Team setup. It can be successfully applied to activities like studying, writing, meeting, presentations, events, planning , projects, and many more.

Always Remember about Pomodoro
  • The Pomodoro is indivisible ( we can't half a half or quarter pomodoro)
  • The plural of Pomodoro is Pomodori ( when we refer to multiple pomodoros, we address them as pomodori)
  • Each Pomodoro is of 25 minutes duration, followed by a 3-5 minutes break
  • After every four Pomodoros, take a 15-30 minutes break
  • If a task takes more than 5-7 Pomodoros, break it down to several activities
  • Never use the break periods to do things related to Pomodoro activity. The idea of break time is "free time", so do activities that will help relax and recharge the brain, maybe having tea/ coffee/ general chat with friend/ colleague/ eat a healthy snack/ read an article quickly, do a quick stretch, etc.
  • Don't use this technique for/ during "free time" / "break time". That time is meant for relaxation. 
  • If a task less than one Pomodoro, add it up (combine with similar simple activities)
  • If a Pomodoro gets interrupted, then it becomes void and we need to start with a new Pomodoro
  • If a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring (for closure). (Ring connotes a sound, beep, timer sound, etc.)
  • If a task finishes early in a Pomodoro, review the work till the Pomodoro rings (till 25 minutes get over)
  • Protect the Pomodoro (in case of external interruption) by using the "Inform Effectively - Negotiate Quickly - Call Back" strategy. 
  • It takes 7-21 days to master the Pomodoro Technique

Trivia about Pomodoro

Here's some trivia about Pomodoro
  • In Italian, Pomodoro means "tomato".
  • The reason behind 25 minutes is based on the research which suggests that anywhere between 20-45 minutes time interval can maximixe a person's attention and mental activity. The 25 minute duration for Pomodoro was arrived at after conducting few experiments with the audience to check for the appropriate duration for a person to be active.  

Resources to Refer

Please note that you may find slight variation in the format of the Sheets used for Pomodoro. I have restricted myself to using the ones originally mentioned by the Francesco Cirillo, the creator of Pomodoro. 

And, just in case you are wondering about the title of this post - the tick refers to the check that we put after completing a Pomodoro and tock refers to the clicking of the timer . Also, i took about 5 pomodori for writing this post :)

Don't wait and go Pomodoring today !

N.B. - The images used in this post/ article have been sourced from the internet. 

The post also contains some affiliate links and i may earn some commission for my endorsement, testimonial, and/ or link to any product or service from this post  

I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter's #MyFriendAlexa


  1. Effective technique for time managementšŸ‘Nice blogšŸ‘Œ

    1. Thanks for your comments and i am glad that you liked it :)
      Keep visiting the blog for more

  2. Wow!! Didn't know about POMODORO.. It is very important to take a few minutes break while we are working continuously.. We don't realise sometimes and work continuously without any break.. Taking a break in between definitely helps us work better.. This is a very informative post :)

    1. Hi Simrit, you are absolutely right. We need to recharge and refresh to sustain our focus and attention in the long run.

      Thanks for your kind words :)

  3. Awesome and a great way to accomplish our goals.keep up the good work please

  4. Much needed, looking at the distraction currently we get into.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Indeed, the need of the hour :) !

  5. this is so amazing reading it. from symptoms to way of life. Pomodoro is such a vast technique. it will certainly cascade further.

    1. Thanks Nadia, glad that you liked it :)
      indeed, pomodoro is an excellent technique to get more done through focus and concentration.

  6. Very informative post. I didn't really know about a pomodoro before!

    1. Thanks Cindy :)
      Happy to know that you found it useful !

  7. This is very insightful. The external factors! I think most of us needs such solutions to overcome the holding back factors and boost our productivity.

    1. thanks for your comments. Yes, tools like Pomodoro help us to be focused in a highly distracting world

  8. This is something new to me. But it really looks like a efficient technique to concentrate

    1. Yes, it is a very effective technique to help us stay focused on the task and be productive