Technique to balance time management

Pomodoro method uses work intervals to maximize productivity


Joanna Falla/The Campanile

The Pomodoro technique is used to help individuals manage their time efficiently.

The struggle with time is real. There always seems to be enough of it at first, but in the blink of an eye it always seems to run out. With a myriad of activities to keep track of every day, from schoolwork to sports to extracurriculars to a social life, staying on top of what to do and when to do it can be an activity to keep track of in itself. How much time should a person spend on each activity? Should there be a break at some point and if so, when and for how long? At what point has a person been working for too long and is starting to get inefficient? This is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in.

Francesco Cirillo, the entrepreneur who founded this technique in his novel “The Pomodoro Technique,” first used a Pomodoro (Italian for “tomato”) shaped timer as a university student to create specific periods of productivity followed by constant breaks. Based on his university experiences, Cirillo discovered that short spurts of optimal focus condition the brain to remain committed to working diligently for a concrete time span, while regular breaks reward the brain and reinforce motivation and creativity.

More specifically, the Pomodoro Technique is a time-management practice that maximizes concentration through short, 25-minute intervals (called Pomodoros) of productive activity intercepted by regular 5-minute breaks. One of the main rules of the technique, however, is that the 25 minutes must be an uninterrupted period of absolute productivity, so that the authentic effects of both the Pomodoros and the breaks are ensured. After one completes four consecutive 25-minute intervals with all the appropriate breaks, the Pomodoro Technique calls for a longer break that ranges from 15 to 30 minutes in order to recharge the individual’s mindset and assimilate new information.

To utilize the time-management practice, the Pomodoro Technique offers a variety of ways to participate, both for free and at a price. Different Pomodoro timer applications for smartphones are available, with the more advanced apps without advertisements and with more customization available for purchase. On the Pomodoro Technique website, users can download tables to list and record tasks as well as track progress. To delve even deeper into the technique, the website also offers the original book and physical Pomodoro timer for purchase as well.

By following the steps of the Pomodoro Technique, users can potentially gain four main benefits that Cirillo claims to be unique to his technique. The first is the ability to work with time. Many people constantly find themselves working against time, struggling to finish a task by a certain deadline. The Pomodoro Technique strives to eliminate this struggle with time by incentivising users to look forward to their break time, making them work with time rather than against it.

The second benefit eliminates burnouts. By making people work in 25-minute intervals with breaks in between, working with a tired and burned out brain is avoided. These short intervals allow for people to work in efficient bursts, and the breaks allow them to refuel before the next Pomodoro. By eliminating burnouts, users can spend their time as a whole more efficiently.

The next benefit allows users to manage their distractions. While working, people are constantly tempted by distractions, whether they be text messages, other tasks to do or a desire to eat. The Pomodoro Technique allows users to keep track of their distractions through prioritization. Since each Pomodoro is short, users can often ignore typical distractions until their next break.

Finally, the technique creates a better balance between work and life. By creating a timetable and following the Pomodoro schedule, users save time by doing work more efficiently, allowing more time for life. Even within the Pomodoro Technique, there is time to relax built into each break. Users get to enjoy their free time without the guilt of feeling unproductive, since the technique allows for efficient work and well-earned breaks.

Though opportunities to waste and misuse time will continue to present themselves everywhere and every day, the Pomodoro Technique endeavors to help users sensibly budget and spend their precious time. The struggle with time may be real, but the management of time is, too.