Ever heard the word "pomodoro"? Yes, it's the Italian word for "tomato," and it's also a style of pasta sauce. If you're a big fan of life hacks, however, then you already know that the Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that many swear by to prevent procrastination and maximize productivity.
You Say Tomato, We Say Pomodoro
Created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique got its name from a tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used while developing the method. The process is actually very simple. First, you outline a to-do list of the projects that need work that day. Then you divide each one into 25-minute working periods called "pomodoros." Then you get to work. You should be focused and working for the entirety of each 25-minute pomodoro, and at the end, you take a 5-minute break. After four pomodoros pass, you get a well-earned 15–20-minute break to replenish your energy.
If you're like most people, your productivity level can fluctuate from one hour to the next. Sometimes it may seem like your assignments are flying by and you're checking boxes off your to-do list left and right. Other times, the day drags on and the only thing you're checking is your ex's Facebook page. Research indicates that forcing yourself to remain at your desk all day actually reduces performance and productivity, whereas frequent short breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. What's more, knowing that your pomodoro is only 25 minutes long may pressure you into being as productive as possible during that time period. It's essentially meant to make you feel more accountable for your time and your tasks. The Wall Street Journal's Sue Shellenbarger is one supporter of the technique. She touted its benefits in a 2009 article: "It eased my anxiety over the passing of time and also made me more efficient; refreshed by breaks, for example, I halved the total time required to fact-check a column."
For the many pomodoro-philes out there, naturally, the method has its critics too. One issue is that 25 minutes can be a relatively long period of time for a busy professional. If you have a job where you're constantly pulled into meetings, for example, you may not have 25 minutes to spare, and may end up not starting a pomodoro until after the meeting.
Here's the good news: The Pomodoro Technique won't cost you a thing. All you need is a kitchen timer. There are even Pomodoro timer apps for iPhone and Android if you don't have one. Will it work for you? You'll never know until you try. So why not give it a shot?