6 Steps to Getting Things Done Using the Pomodoro Technique

One day, close to four decades ago, a young man sat in his kitchen, struggling to study. At his wit’s end, he grabbed a timer – shaped like a red tomato, or ‘pomodoro’ in his native Italian – and set it up, forcing himself to commit to just a little bit of study time.

It worked – and the Pomodoro Technique has since inspired so much of how we approach and manage our time working or studying. But what is the Pomodoro Technique, exactly? And how can you use the Pomodoro Technique – in combination with a set of other productivity strategies – to boss your next project?

Let’s find out!

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Developed by Francesco Cirillo, then a university student, in the 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time-honored, tried-and-tested time management method. 

A favorite of students, employees, and procrastinators alike, the Pomodoro Technique is based around the idea of breaking down work into intervals of 25 minutes. These intervals – dubbed ‘pomodoros’ – are separated by short (usually five-minute) breaks.

Here’s how the Pomodoro Technique works:

  1. Choose a task you need to get done.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work on your task until the timer buzzes.
  3. Take a five-minute break.
  4. After every four ‘pomodoros’, take a longer break – between 15 and 30 minutes is good.
  5. Start it all over again!

The Pomodoro Technique’s central tenet is that, by breaking a task down into shorter, more focused intervals, productivity goes up – and the chances of burnout go down. Regular breaks also help prevent fatigue, and help you concentrate over a longer, more sustainable period.

How to Get Things Done Using the Pomodoro Technique

Ready to work more efficiently? To manage your time, and your budget, more effectively? To embrace the pomodoro – and power your productivity?

Let’s explore our top 6 ways of getting things done, using the Pomodoro Technique (and our very own set of time tracking tools, of course!)

Step 1: Get Diligent About Your Time Tracking

The Pomodoro Technique requires you to take a break after every 25 minutes of work. But how are you meant to stick to this vital part of the process unless you have some way of knowing how long you’ve been working for?

Here’s where your time keeping methods will need to be up to scratch. And here, too, is where the (tongue twister incoming) TrackingTime time tracker tool comes in.

With this tool, you can set a timer, allowing you to simply, seamlessly track your time – in a click. Better still, this feeds into an online timesheet, where you’re able to track not only your own pomodoros, but those of your team – and in real time, too.

You can access our time tracker tool from your desktop computer, or through a handy mobile app. Enabling you to keep tabs on your pomodoros, your time keeping, and your tasks: across Jira, Trello, Asana, and more than 30 of the best project management software platforms money can buy.

Step 2: Don’t Use the Clock App on Your iPhone to Track Your Time

‘But wait’, we hear you ask. ‘Can’t I simply track my time with the Clock app on my iPhone?’

Well, you can – but we don’t recommend it. Our time tracking tool works in harmony with all your other Tracking Time time, attendance, and project management tools. It’s everything you need, in a single app. Plus, it’s one of the best timekeeping techniques for recording your working hours – and takes the headache – and the hassle! – out of time tracking.

(And, as we’ll soon see, having your phone nearby when you’re attempting a pomodoro only constitutes an unnecessary distraction!)

Step 3: Understand the Progress of Your Projects

Of course, when it comes to the Pomodoro Technique, tracking your time is just the beginning. To make the most of the technique’s unique approach to work – and the wonders it can do for your productivity levels – you also need to be tracking your projects.

That means understanding who’s working on what, how much progress they’ve made, and how long they’ve spent on them. It’s knowing, at a glance, if a deadline is coming up (and, if so, when) and getting an instant sense of which portions of a project you need to prioritize.

After all – what’s the point in utilizing the Pomodoro Technique to work smarter, if you’re not being clever about how you manage your projects?

Fortunately, it’s something our platform here at TrackingTime can help with. With our project management tool, you’ll be monitoring the progress of tasks and organizing subtasks in a couple of clicks.

Benefiting from a 360-degree view of your entire team’s billable – and nonbillable – hours, you’ll know exactly which projects are profitable. And, in a few simple drag and drops across the page, you’ll be able to edit all your team’s time entries – from a colorful calendar view that’s as easy to use as it is on the eye.

Project management tracking – and project management productivity – is as important as the principles of the Pomodoro Technique itself. So be sure to stay on top of it! Key features of many project management tools include being able to create organizational charts such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards and other workflow features.

Step 4: Avoid Distractions

When it’s time to work, good procrastinators always find something to distract them.

Whether that’s checking the basketball scores or watching the weekend’s weather forecast, there’s usually something that can justify requiring our urgent attention. (Heck, now so many of us work from home, even household chores can be a more exciting prospect than sitting down to work on a project!)

But if you’re serious about using the Pomodoro Technique to get things done, you’ll also need to eliminate unnecessary distractions.

That means no social media. No TV or music playing in the background. And certainly no aimless scrolling.

In fact, if you can put your smartphone away for 25 minutes – or at least place it on silent – as you tackle each pomodoro, that’s even better. Whether we’re using them or not, our phones are constant distractions. Every ding (and every ring) steer you off the course of your concentration – and once that concentration goes, productivity soon follows it out the door.

Step 5: Use Your Breaks Wisely

According to the Pomodoro Technique, you’re entitled to a short break – say, 5 to 10 minutes – for every 25 minutes you work. That’s not a huge amount, so our top tip?

Use those breaks to your advantage!

If that means checking your phone – particularly for work- or family-related calls and messages – do that. (That is, after all, better than dealing with them during your 25-minute pomodoros, which are supposed to be focused time for project work.)

But also, use your breaks to engage your body. Stand up, stretch your legs, go for a walk. Even if it’s just for five minutes, stepping out for a brief constitutional in a nearby park (or a grassy patch of your own garden, if you have one) can reinvigorate your mind.

Studies show that being outside, and amongst nature, boosts mental health – so it’s likely you’ll get back to your desk with a fresh mind, an improved mood, and a renewed appreciation for your work.

Step 6: Every Pomodoro, Focus on One Task Alone

When you’re working normally, it’s tempting to flick constantly between tasks – to jump from one thing to another, then back, then to another task altogether.

But when you utilize the Pomodoro Technique, you’re working in pomodoros – stretches of 25 minutes. That means you need to take a more streamlined, stripped-back approach to your work – which, in turn, means you need to focus on one task alone per 25-minute slot.

So before you begin each pomodoro, figure out exactly which task you’re going to be tackling. And to make that even easier, use TrackingTime to add each task you need to get done as an actionable item within the app – then mark each task as complete as you tick them off your list. 

(Adding the tasks isn’t time consuming, either – you can duplicate the ones you work on most frequently – so won’t cut into your precious 25-minute pomodoros!)

Dig deeper: Pomodoro technique is one of the most popular time management techniques to keep your productivity at bay. But it is not the only one. If this technique is not working for you, you can check out these articles of TimeTracking’s blog about task batching and day theming. These two are also great methods to manage time effectively. Remember time tracker can be used as your ally to put any of these two techniques into practice. 

Getting Things Done Using the Pomodoro Technique

For an idea that came from the shape of a university student’s timer, the Pomodoro Technique has come a long way. It’s inspired a huge amount of intriguing thinking in the area of time management and productivity – and Cirillo himself wrote a 130-page book about it!

The Pomodoro Technique is useful – but it shouldn’t be used in isolation. You’ll need to combine the Pomodoro Technique with the best practices for internal project workflow management. And, ideally, pair it with the right software solution.

By harnessing the Pomodoro Technique alongside, and in harmony with, TrackingTime – and embracing all the time tracking, project management, time reporting and attendance tracking our platform offers – will help you get the most out of your working day. And help you nail your next task or project – however many pomodoros it takes!

About the Author:

Rob Binns graduated with a BA (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He’s passionate about empowering your small business with the tools, skills, and knowledge you need to track your time, empower your staff, and boost your productivity – while boosting your business’s bottom line.

How Does the Pomodoro Technique Works?

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and work on your task until the timer buzzes.

  2. Choose a task you need to get done.

  3. Take a five-minute break.

  4. After every four ‘pomodoros’, take a longer break – between 15 and 30 minutes is good.

  5. Start it all over again!