My First Impression of the Pomodoro Technique

Updated on: by Erica Martin

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It’s no secret that time management is very important for work from home professionals, especially for those whose income comes totally from independent contractor work.  It can be difficult to make sure you’re being productive with the time you have, but luckily there are many tools and techniques available that can help you manage your time.  One of these techniques, the Pomodoro technique, will be the focus of this blog post.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that involves working for 25 minutes, and then taking a 5 minute rest – this is considered one Pomodoro .  After you’ve completed 4 Pomodoros, you can take a longer rest – about 15-30 minutes, depending on how much time you want to spare.

What tools do you need to use the Pomodoro technique effectively?

You only need a few tools to use the Pomodoro technique.  You’ll need some kind of timer to time your Pomodoros.  The ebook that I found at the Pomodoro Technique website makes a strong case for using a kitchen timer, however I did find a Pomodoro timer Windows 7 gadget that works well for me.   You’ll also want a few sheets of paper – on one of these you’ll write down the things you need to do today.  On the other you’ll write down other things that you need to do that come up over the course of the day.  You may also want another sheet of paper to keep track of any records that you feel are important, such as how many Pomodoros it took you to complete a project – you’ll use this information later to figure out how to use your time more effectively. If you have Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program, you can also make up a spreadsheet to keep track of this information.

What is the process you go through with the Pomodoro Technique?

When you get ready to start your first activity, start your Pomodoro timer.  Work non-stop, with no distractions for 25 minutes.  If you end up getting sidetracked during that 25 minute segment, whether it’s by an external source (phone call, visitor, etc) or an internal source (wanting to take a break to check Facebook, go to the bathroom, etc), make a note that the Pomodoro got interrupted and restart the timer.  Once the timer goes off at the end of 25 minutes, take a five minute break.   Continue this cycle for 3 more Pomodoros – once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, you can take a longer break.   Once you’ve finished the first task on your list, go to the next task and start over with your first Pomodoro for that task.

How does the Pomodoro technique help improve productivity?

Keeping records of how many Pomodoros it takes you to complete each task on your list will help you figure out ways you can use your time more effectively.  For example, maybe you get fewer interruptions during a certain time of day – it might be better to work on certain tasks during that time of day, work on tasks that aren’t time sensitive during times when you’re prone to a lot of interruptions.   The ebook on the Pomodoro Technique website goes into more detail on ways you can manage both internal and external distractions. Seeing how many Pomodoros it takes you to complete a certain task will also help give you an idea of how much time it takes to complete a certain task when you have no interruptions.  For example, I used the Pomodoro Technique one day when I was working on some transcription.  It took me about 10 Pomodoros (or 5 hours) to transcribe the two half-hour audios I had to transcribe, which is about right – it takes me about 2 1/2 hours to transcribe and edit one half hour of audio.   I am, however trying to work on cutting that down by coming up with new transcription shortcuts I can use on Phrase Express.  I also found out from using the Pomodoro technique that it’s better for me to work on transcription in the morning, after I’ve gotten other things out of the way like email, bills, etc.  Morning seems to be the time when I have fewer interruptions from people calling or knocking on the door.  Transcription is an activity that takes a lot of concentration for me, so I know when I have transcription work I need to work on it in the morning when I can.

What kind of work from home jobs is the Pomodoro technique useful for?

It’s definitely useful for freelance writers and transcriptionists, or anyone who is not on the phone a lot as part of their job. I would NOT recommend using this technique if you do phone work, however, because there’s always the chance that you’ll be on the phone when the timer goes off at the end of a Pomodoro.  Also, many companies that hire people to do phone work don’t like to hear background noise when they’re monitoring calls.

Where can I find more information about the Pomodoro Technique?

You can find more information on the Pomodoro Technique at the Pomodoro Technique website, which has a link to a downloadable version of their book, as well as some other downloadable resources.

I would love to hear about any experiences other readers have with the Pomodoro Technique….


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Leisa Good

April 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

Erica, excellent post. Boy, I read through thinking this was written just for me. As I get ready to go on vacation this week, this article is very timely.

I will definitely try this using TraxTime. Thank you so much