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The Pomodoro Technique: An Overview

Pomodoro Technique timerProfHacker has covered many different time management techniques, and today I’m going to introduce you to another one. The Pomodoro technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and is a time management solution similar to other timeboxing techniques that many programming and collaboration teams have adopted. “Pomodoro” is Italian for tomato, and the technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that can be used to track your work sessions.

What sets the Pomodoro technique apart from other time management techniques is the 5 simple steps and the use of a timer (either a physical timer, like a kitchen timer, or a software timer on your computer or smartphone).

This technique uses 5 basic steps:

  1. Identify your tasks to be completed
  2. Set your timer to 25-minutes (or 1 Pomodoro) and begin working
  3. When the timer ends, put a checkmark beside the completed tasks
  4. Take a 5-minute break to rejuvenate yourself before the next work session
  5. Wash, rinse, and repeat (minus the wash and the rinse)

After 4 consecutive Pomodoros (4 25-minute sessions, or almost 2 hours), you will take a longer break, say 15-30 minutes. After this break, you will repeat the normal process until your tasks have been completed.

Not only is the simple 5-step process easy to follow, but it’s also easy to remember. Because you’re not relying on a complex time management or productivity systems, you could theoretically apply the Pomodoro technique to any task throughout your day, even if you’re not at your desk.

To get started with the Pomodoro technique, I recommend that you read the free Pomodoro Technique Book that shows you all of the ins and outs of this useful time management strategy. The book talks about how to manage your schedule, cut down on interruptions, and even what to do when the phone rings and interrupts your Pomodoro session. The book reading takes around 1 Pomodoro session to complete.

We decided to put the Pomodoro technique to the test, to see if it would change the way we work, or increase our productivity. That’s why over the next few weeks, we’ll test and report back the results of our Pomodoro technique experiment. George will be reporting the results of the experiment from a professorial point of view, and I will be reporting back results from a student’s point of view.

When we report back, we will also let you know any tips or tricks that we’ve run across while using the Pomodoro technique (such as the timers we used on our computers, what we used for our task lists, etc.).

How about you? Have you ever tried the Pomodoro technique? Let’s hear from you in the comments!

[Creative-Commons Licensed Image via WikiMedia Commons]

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