Pomodoro Technique: What is It and How it Works

If you wish to beat procrastination and improve your focus, the Pomodoro technique is exactly what you need. 

It is said that the secret to effective time management is thinking in tomatoes rather than hours. It may sound super crazy at first, but the truth is many people swear by the life-changing power of the Pomodoro technique. (By the way, Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato).

So, if you feel overwhelmed by work, tend to procrastinate, struggle with concentration, or have problems meeting demanding deadlines, this technique might be the one for you! The Pomodoro technique is perfect for people who: 

  • Find little distractions often derail the whole workday
  • Have many time wasting tasks that don’t allow you to move forward
  • Consistently work past the point of optimal productivity
  • Are overly optimistic when it comes to how much you can get done in a day
  • Have difficulty overcoming procrastination 
  • Enjoy gamified goal setting

But what exactly is the Pomodoro technique, and how does it work? How can it truly help you? Let’s find out!

a pomodoro timer in a work desk

What is the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that improves your focus and concentration. It’s based on work bursts of 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break.

Italian Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro technique in the late 1980s. His technique became super popular, perhaps because it’s portable and easy to learn.

It’s a structured method of processes, tools, principles, and values to learn how to deal with time and turn it from rocket science to an ally to boost your productivity. 

For many of us, time is very complex and hard to manage. The anxiety triggered by deadlines leads to ineffective work and procrastination. With the Pomodoro technique, hopefully, you will be able to see time differently.

Get to know the best ways to beat procrastination in our article.

How does the Pomodoro technique work?

The Pomodoro technique basically consists of:

  • Picking one project or task you want to focus on
  • Get a to-do list and a timer
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task until the timer rings
  • When your session ends, mark off one Pomodoro and record what you completed
  • Then enjoy a five-minute break
  • After four “Pomodoros”, take a longer break, like 15-30 minutes

The 25-minute Pomodoro time management technique is a long enough session to get some work done but not so long that it feels painful or overwhelming.

Unlike trying to work without a break for hours, it’s relatively easy to stack small sessions on top of each other. Four Pomodoro sessions can represent a super productive morning. It’s surprising how much you can accomplish in short bursts of focused work.

Feeling overwhelmed? Discover how to get organized at work when overwhelmed with our guide.

Why is a Pomodoro 25 minutes?

This is one of the best tips to save time. One of the main goals of the Pomodoro technique is to get people who procrastinate not to do so. To accomplish this, the Pomodoro method’s time can’t be so long that it discourages people even before starting.

Twenty-five minutes is a short enough period for most people to look at it and say they can work on the task at hand for that time. It’s a manageable total of time to put aside to work, even on a task that doesn’t inspire you. 

In addition, it’s a period of time that prevents you from burning yourself out on the task. The 25-minute Pomodoro helps prevent burnout by keeping the work period short, so there is no hesitation to return to the task once the short break is over.

In addition to everything mentioned, the 25-minute Pomodoro is the perfect time to frame an hour of the day.

A Pomodoro is 25 minutes, and then a five-minute break makes the perfect 30 minutes. That means that two Pomodoro with breaks come to precisely one hour.

Knowing this makes it much easier to plan time in the day and keep your task on schedule.

A tomato and a laptop to perform Pomodoro time management technique

Does the Pomodoro technique work? 

The Pomodoro methodology can be highly effective as it helps you successfully manage your time and work on a task or project without distractions. It’s also beneficial as it helps you become more disciplined and focused only on your work.

This technique is designed to combat multitasking, improve concentration, and beat procrastination. Multitasking decreases productivity because it can easily lead to distraction and fatigue.

A study published in the journal Cognition concludes short breaks help keep your attention span on track. The study lead and psychology professor at the University of Illinois, Alejandro Lleras, explained that the mind tunes out after working consistently on one project. 

Also, working long hours on a task can lead to cognitive boredom. Research confirms that such tiredness, in turn, encourages an unengaged mind. Cognitive boredom takes a huge toll on your focus; however, following a work-break-work pattern such as the Pomodoro technique can solve this issue.

Why does the Pomodoro technique work?

If you’re still in doubt about whether this technique works or not, here are some of the reasons we believe it does:

  • Knowing that you only have 25 minutes to work on a task before taking a break might install a sense of urgency
  • You’re more likely to focus completely in those 25 minutes because you know they’re followed by 5 minutes during which you can do whatever you want
  • It will force you to add more structure to your workday, making everything easier and smoother
  • Getting started on a big task can sometimes take some effort and feel daunting, which is why many people procrastinate. Deciding that you’ll work on it for only 25 minutes before taking a break makes it a lot easier and less scary

Who uses the Pomodoro technique? 

The Pomodoro technique can do great wonders if you struggle with procrastination and have a hard time focusing on your tasks for a long period of time.

Basically, we can say that Pomodoro is useful for everyone: project managers, teams, developers, web designers, SEOs, team leaders, and even in your personal life.


Suppose you are working on a task and suddenly feel the need to do other things, such as checking social media, working on a task of a different project, or even loading the dishwasher instead of focusing on your current work. In that case, you might need the Pomodoro technique.

Also, situations such as your deadline approaching and completing your task on time seem impossible or being constantly interrupted by other team members make your attention span smaller and you make more mistakes.

Well, if this happens to you, you are not alone! We all face the same problems. We know we should focus on the task at hand, but it feels impossible with so many distractions and demands on our time.

These kinds of situations are super common to everyone. With the Pomodoro technique, you’ll learn how to deal with these occurrences productively to reach your own objectives.

However, remember that the Pomodoro technique might not be the best fit for you if you consistently work on tasks requiring longer sessions of concentrated work.

You might also find that taking a break every 25 minutes interrupts your flow and does more harm than good, or that a 5-minute break is too short. Yet, the great thing about this technique is that it allows you to set the duration of work and break periods to whatever suits your specific needs.

How to follow the Pomodoro technique? 

Here are a few tips for using the Pomodoro technique:

Pomodoro timer

1. Get a Timer

First and foremost, you’ll need a Pomodoro app or a timer for the Pomodoro technique to work.

You’ll then need to select your tasks for the day and ensure that your timer is set to 25 minutes. Then, work till the timer alerts you. After that, enjoy your break! Even if you have gotten into a state of flow, it’s time to get up and enjoy your break.

Remember, working continuously without taking short breaks can lead to stress, poor concentration, fatigue, and burnout.

2. Plan

Before you start working, take some time to plan your sessions or your Pomodoros. Prepare a to-do list and record the number of Pomodoros every task will take.

Keep in mind that any task which takes more than five Pomodoros should be broken down into smaller tasks for you to stay on top of things.

3. Manage your Pomodoros

Some types of work will require you to work for extended periods to get things done. Activities such as writing, coding, or composing will require you to be in the state of flow to get good results; therefore, 25 minutes can be too short.

Consequently, extending your sessions together with breaks can increase your level of effectiveness.

If you are feeling tired or experiencing mental resistance, you should consider reducing your sessions to fifteen or even ten minutes. You should adjust the intervals based on your energy level, the number of tasks needed, and the type of work.

timeular - the best time tracking app for small business

4. Get a time-tracking app

For the Pomodoro technique to work effectively, you’ll need a few tools, such as a time-tracking app, to track your progress. A great app you could use is Timeular. It allows you to time your sessions, adjust the length of the session, and access this data on different gadgets and the web.

What makes the Pomodoro technique not always work? 

Nothing is always a sea of roses. Despite the number of Pomodoro lovers, the system isn’t without its critics. 

As mentioned before, one of the big problems with Pomodoro is that the timer is a constant interruption that inhibits your ability to get into a flow state.

While in a flow state, you’re highly focused and productive, and your ability to stay focused and productive is effortless. However, using the Pomodoro technique might be taking that flow state away from you.

So, let’s say you’ve achieved a flow state, you’re highly focused and productive, and then a timer goes off, letting you know that it’s time for you to take a break. If the distraction of the alarm alone doesn’t take you out of your flow state, the break most certainly will.


The Pomodoro technique can be super helpful if used correctly. One of the best things about this technique is that it’s free, so you don’t really lose much by trying it.

The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work, but if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the Pomodoro technique may fit your needs. So, give it a go! And make sure you download the Timeular app to help you with this technique and be as efficient as possible.


Who invented the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro technique was invented by the developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, when he was a university student. It used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to organize his study schedule.

When to use the Pomodoro technique?

You should use this technique if you’re struggling to manage distractions, control your time, and stay motivated.

How many Pomodoro sets should you do in a day?

While an 8-hour workday technically leaves room for sixteen Pomodoro, it’s best to build in a buffer of 2-4 “overflow” Pomodoros, just in case. Use your overflow Pomodoros for tasks that take longer than you planned or for unexpected tasks that come up during the day.

How long is the break after 4 Pomodoro?

After four Pomodoro you should take a long and restorative 15-30-minute break.

What do you do in a Pomodoro break?

It’s totally up to you, you can do whatever you want. Here are a few healthy suggestions: stretch your body, take a quick snack or drink, meditate to calm your mind, play a song you love, etc.

Is the Pomodoro technique good for ADHD?

Using the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD may be helpful because it structures tasks into short bursts of focus time. It also sets a time limit for work, which can help prevent hyperfocus on a specific task for too long.

Find the best tips to deal with adhd procrastination.
Read the ultimate guide for ADHD planning.

Is there a better technique than the Pomodoro? 

The best time management technique is the one that works for you and your job. Try as many as possible and see which one helps you the most in getting work done and feeling better. 

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