Productivity Hack: The Pomodoro Timer

Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow, what should have been done the day before yesterday
— Nopolean Hill

Ever find yourself working on a really important project, and then it hits?...

Procrastination...Oh, that dreaded word. It's a word I'm quite familiar with.  In fact I like to call myself, the "King of Procrastination".  Its a lofty, but well earned title.  Procrastination is REAL.  One minute your getting your work done, next minute your caught in deep and dark snapchat vortex.  

Nowadays it's harder than ever to stay on task.  Through the power of technology, we have an abundance of information at our hands.  We literally, have the world at our fingertips.  But with all these advancements, it easier than ever to get distracted, lose focus, and ultimately, lose productivity.  To be productive, is to be efficient and effective with your time.  In order to create the life you want, productivity is paramount.  One of the easiest methods to implement, is using the pomordoro method.  The pomodoro timer is simple, can help you increase your productivity, and ultimately reach your goals faster! 

(Note: For this blog, we will be using the phrases Pomodoro timer and Pomodoro Method interchangeably)


How It Works

In Italian, the word pomodoro means tomato.  Yes, it literally means tomato.  Ever heard of pasta pomodoro?...Even though it may be relatively new to some, the pomodoro timer has been around for quite some time.  The pomodoro timer, or pomodoro method was discovered by an Italian Entrepreneur named Francesco Cirillo.  The name pomodoro, is for the tomato shaped timer Francesco used when he devised this method. 

See this thing really is a tomato!

See this thing really is a tomato!

The pomodoro method is basically the following steps:

1) Choose whatever task or job you want to work on
2) Set a timer for 25 minutes (there are several apps set up like this, that we'll cover later)
3) Work for the 25 minutes while avoiding distraction (this is key)
4) Once the 25 minutes are completed, take a 5 minute break...That equals 1 pomodoro
5) Once the break is over, repeat the 25 minutes of work to rest ratio.
6) Once 4 pomodors are reached, you take an extended break of 15 minutes.

That's it! Pretty simple I know.  The beauty of the pomodoro method is in its simplicity.  It's something you can start implementing today.  The whole point of the pomodoro timer to break up your work/study sessions and help you avoid distraction.  Using Pomodoro timer makes you more aware of your task at hand, and allows you to prioritize it.  

How I Use It 

Like any useful method for productivity, it is important to adjust it to suit your needs.  Personally, I like to use the pomodoro method when I need to do a task that has a deadline.  For example. a task like writing this blog post. The timer creates an external pressure that forces you to be productive and succinct in your execution of that task. 

If you've heard heard of Parkinson's Law then you know that tasks expand to the to the time you allot them.  In other words, give yourself a condensed time for a task, and you will adapt.  You will complete it in the time that you have. There are also times when I don't use the pomodoro method in its purest form.  If I'm in a great state and cruising through a project, or in "flow" as some of my more hippie friends would say, am I going to stop right at 25 minutes when that timer goes off?...Of course not!!  If you want to work 30 minutes or longer, then go for it.  You don't have be super strict on the time variable. However, one thing you must be strict on is the avoidance of distractions.  That is the core purpose of the method.

How YOU Can Use It

                   FOcus Keeper App Timer

                   FOcus Keeper App Timer

Next time you are at work, studying, or doing an assignment set your phone to 25 minutes. Another option  would be to change the Auto-Lock settings on your phone. You can set the time to "never" from the standard time (usually 30 seconds). This means the timer will always be on your phone screen. By seeing the time ticking,  you're less likely to do something stupid like Facebook stalk your middle school girlfriend!

 After the 25 minutes are up, use the 5 minutes you have to do something other than the task you have to complete. This is key as well.  You must embrace the distraction.  Then, as soon that 5 minutes is up, time to get right back to work!

A more ideal method may be to set a physical timer that isn't on your phone, that way your phone and your timer are completely disassociated.  Here are bunch of timers you can buy online. But if you would prefer not using the time on your phone or owning a vegetable shaped timer, there are many pomodoro specific apps you can use instead.

 I like to use the app Focus Keeper.  It's simple, clean, effective, and even tracks your productivity over time.  It also sends push notifications to your phone to remind you to get back on task.  Best of all it's FREE.  However, if you're not a fan of Focus Keeper or would like to try a  different one, here are some other free pomodoro apps you can try out.


As much as we have grown technologically in the last few years, timers can seem a bit antiquated. The pomodoro method isn't fancy, but the bottom line is, it's effective.  It's not the be all end all cure for procrastination, but they are a great tool to have as you go through the day.  Remember we should all be striving for productivity, and to be productive we must be focused and take action. Take it from the King himself!