Do you use your time effectively and efficiently? The Pomodoro Technique will enable you to be more productive than ever! This free digital or printable pomodoro planner will help you use the technique successfully.
Many people suffer from procrastination. There are so many things to do on one hand and so many distractions on the other.
Francesco Cirillo, the author of “The Pomodoro Technique” faced this problem at university. He found the solution to his problem in the form of a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking tasks up into smaller, manageable units the author calls pomodoro (Italian for tomato).
The Pomodoro Technique
- Choose one single task you want to complete.
- Set a pomodoro timer (or any timer) for 25 minutes (this 25-minute chunk is called a pomodoro).
- During these 25 minutes (the pomodoro) focus only on completing the task. Don’t let anything or anyone distract you.
- Once the timer rings, take a 5-minute break. After your break, you’ll be refreshed and ready for your next pomodoro!
- After you have finished 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
How does the Pomodoro technique help you?
This simple productivity method helps you focus on the task at hand.
When your time isn’t structured you keep getting distracted and focusing on other things. It’s difficult to stay focused for too long but when you only have to do it for 25 minutes it’s doable. You can put almost anything off for 25 minutes.
You will control your day and focus on the things you want to prioritize.
When you try to complete huge tasks, it becomes overwhelming and you land up getting nothing done. However, when you focus on small tasks that you can do in 25 minutes then you actually get them done.
Pomodoro Technique Rules
Breakup your day into pomodoros
Each day, decide how many hours you want to spend working and break that time into pomodoros. For example, set a goal of 10 pomodoro per day (i.e. 250 minutes of work). You will find yourself getting more done than if you spend all day working. Once you do that well, start adding more pomodoros each day. In an 8 hour workday you can do up to 16 pomodoros.
Spend exactly 25 minutes on each pomodoro – no more no less.
What happens if you finish your task before the 25 minutes are up?
Once you’ve started your pomodoro timer, you are committed to 25 minutes of focused work. You don’t stop before the time. Keep working. The goal is to internalize this habit so that eventually you work pomodoro-style without even thinking about it. The only way to discipline yourself to be more productive is to adherence to the rules.
If you complete your task before, either review it or think of ways to improve or perfect it.
If you know a task will take less than 25 minutes before you start then combine smaller tasks into one Pomodoro.
For some people or for some tasks, 25 minutes might be too short. You can try longer sessions with longer breaks. Try different periods until you find the one that works best for you. The author suggests sessions between 20 to 45 minutes each.
Why 25 minutes?
The system is based on 25-minute intervals but that is just a guide. You should experiment with different time intervals to see what works best for you. If you find that you can focus better for longer or shorter then adjust the time. As long as you can focus for the entire interval and stick to the time you choose, it doesn’t really matter how long it is.
The duration of each session does not necessarily have to be 25 minutes. Find a time that works for you. During a study done (source) it was found that the most productive workers spent 52 minutes working on average and then took a 17 minute break. Find the ideal times that work for you since they differ from person to person.
Do not skip your breaks.
After each pomodoro you take a 5 minute break. Even if you don’t feel you need a break, you have to take one. You need to take breaks in order to stay focused. Don’t waste your breaks checking emails or working on other things. Rest so that you are ready to focus on your next pomodoro.
When your mind understands that there is time to focus and time to relax after this session it will stop wondering during your work time.
After you have finished 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
This longer break will help you stay motivated and rested. You will find yourself being more productive with way less stress.
Pomodoro Technique Tools
You don’t need much to use the Pomodoro Technique. All you need is:
- A Pomodoro timer (traditionally this is a tomato-shaped kitchen timer but you can use any timer or stopwatch). If you find that using your smartphone distracts you then invest in a simple timer or stopwatch.
- A list of things to do today. Break your list into tasks and break each task into pompodoros. It might take time to estimate how many pomodoros are needed for each task but you will get better at it with time.
- An inventory of all the tasks you want to get done today or in the near future.
These tools can be found in our free printable or digital pomodoro planner.
Free Pomodoro Planner
Our free pomodora planner can be printed or used digitally. The pages are fillable if you want to type on them.
It includes an outline of the Pomodoro Technique, an inventory of all your tasks and daily task lists. There are two kinds of inventories for small tasks and bigger ones that need to be broken down into smaller tasks.
Free Pomodoro Tracker
Use this free pomodoro tracker to track your pomodoras and mark them complete.
There are more trackers and printables in the complete planner (which is also free).Pomodoro Planner
How to stay focused
During the day you will encounter various interruptions that take your focus away from the task at hand and shift it to something else. These interruptions include phone calls, emails, etc.
There are two main types of interruptions:
Internal interruptions that come from within (these include thoughts that pop into your mind distracting you). You might suddenly want to check your bank balance, eat something or text a friend.
When a thought pops into your mind, write it down and get back to your pomodoro.
Once your pomodoro is complete, take a moment to deal with the thought you jotted down. You might find that what seemed important while you were in your pomodoro isn’t that important after all. However, if it still seems important, then put it in your inventory list or on your To Do Today list.
External interruptions are outside forces that disturb you such as a colleague who pops in your office to chat, emails, text messages, etc.
Take control of your time and don’t let others control it for you.
Let calls go to voicemail and call people back during your breaks.
Turn off email, text, and WhatsApp notifications so that they don’t distract you.
Devote one pomodoro (of more if required) to reading and responding to emails. For example, use one pomodoro in the morning and one in the afternoon depending on the urgency and volume of your emails.
If someone comes by, explain politely that you are in the middle of something and can be with them in 10 minutes (or whenever you finish your pomodoro).
Don’t interrupt your pomodoro unless it is a real emergency.
If you are distracted during a pomodoro, then track these interruptions and reflect on how to avoid them in the future.
How to use the Pomodoro Method
Make a list of all the things you need to do today and in the near future.
Spend some time each morning, or the night before, planning your day. Make a list of the tasks you want to do that day and decide how many pomodoros each task will take. Our free pomodoro planner has a list of tasks and a section to divide it into pomodoros.
Decide how many pomodoros you will do each day. In an 8-hour workday you can do up to 16 pomodoros but it is more likely you will only get up to 14 pomodoros in. We are all human and breaks often take a bit longer, some distractions are unavoidable and some tasks take longer to complete than we planned.
Write down the tasks you plan to complete in each 4 pomodoros.
Pomodoro Study Technique
You can use the same technique to study without getting distracted. Divide your material into pomodoros and spend each 25 minutes studying instead of working. The technique is the same for studying and working.