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The Pomodoro Technique – A Simple Guide

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Do you need to change things up?

Do you find it difficult to stay focused each day? Do you find that some days you could just work and work, yet other days you’re staring out of the window unsure of what to do?

If you’re a busy coach, therapist, service provider, or entrepreneur who is constantly feeling exhausted instead of energised, The Pomodoro Technique may be a great solution for you.

I talk a lot about gentle productivity, and finding what works for you, and this technique is one method you can use to create that consistency within your work and avoid those energy dips.

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What is The Pomodoro Technique?

The ethos of this technique is to work in small, focused sessions followed by a break.

The Pomodoro Technique was created by Francesco Cirillo who had found it difficult to stay focused while he was studying at university. 

One day he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to help him refocus by breaking his study time into smaller timed sessions. Cirillo found that 25 minute sessions, followed by a short break worked best for him.

After 4 pomodoro focus sessions and break cycles, you will take a longer break (15 – 30 minutes). This longer break is more restorative and will then help you to prepare for the next set of 4 sessions.

This technique encourages you to focus on one thing at a time, instead of multi-tasking as a way to improve your productivity. This approach to working helps to eliminate the risk of becoming distracted or losing focus when you’re constantly stopping and starting.

Why is it so Effective?

The Pomodoro Technique is effective because it helps you tap into your natural focus limits, which will improve your ability to get work done, as well as recharge in between timed sessions.

It’s great for busting through procrastination because it removes the risk of freeze – where you look at a task and simply can’t start because the enormity of what you need to get done is too overwhelming. Psychologically, this feels much more doable.

With the Pomodoro technique, you know that you only need to focus for that short timeframe and then you get to take a break. The shorter sessions followed by this short, restorative break decreases the risk of mental fatigue.

Research found that when participants took regular micro recovery breaks, their level of fatigue and performance was improved. The study used data from existing studies and found that micro breaks of less than 10 minutes did improve wellbeing, and suggested more research should be carried out to explore further. 

“The present study contributes to this body of literature, supporting the assumption that short breaks of close to ten minutes efficiently alleviate fatigue, increase energy, and boost (subjective / perceived) performance”.

Albulescu, Patricia et al., 2022.

Cornell University also offer some great tips for taking “purposeful” study breaks

Time Efficiency

We all know that time itself isn’t the issue – it’s more about what you’re using your time for when we discuss productivity and time management.

When you follow the Pomodoro Technique, you will have a crystal clear overview of where your energy and focus is spent. I love doing time and energy audits – it’s an eye-opening activity that can help you rethink your entire approach to how you work.

I have a free workbook that you can grab if you want to explore this a little more – 

Image of the tme audit download.

The Time Audit Workbook

Discover exactly where you time & energy is going with this free time audit.

Creating Consistent Habits

The Pomodoro Technique is also great for promoting consistency in your work. Often people get trapped into the cycle of going all in for days at a time, then slipping off once boredom, fatigue or more challenging tasks are approaching. 

Consistency is something that will see you through to the end of your project. Showing up daily, or whenever you are able to sit and work, will give you the progress you’re looking for.

It doesn’t matter if you only have 10 – 20 minutes a day, if you consistently show up each day and commit to a focused session per day – you will see progress.

If you’re able to work for longer, this will of course speed the process up, but it’s the repetitions that will get you there in the end!

Creates Structure

If you’re anything like me, I can make a job last an entire day… Having this feeling of urgency with a timed deadline, helps avoid Parkinson's Law. Parkinson's Law refers to how deadlines are often too generous, and if you give something a year to complete – it will take a year – even if the majority of the work would be completed in the final few months for example.

For example, if you allow yourself 2 weeks to complete a specific project or task, the chances are you will take the full 2 weeks to complete it. Why? Because until it’s more of an urgency (deadline approaching), you may take your time with it, or park it so you can focus on something else.

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Cyril Northcote Parkinson 

The Pomodoro Technique helps with this because you’re working in short bursts, focusing only on one thing. This will improve your productivity, and lessen the risk of wasting or filling time between where you are now, and the deadline for completion.

How to Effectively Use The Pomodoro Technique

How you plan and schedule your days / weeks will vary, so these core processes can be adapted to fit with your preferred way of working. But essentially, the core processes are as follows:

  1. Choose your focus tasks for your pomodoro session.
  2. Set your timer to 25 minutes (or your optimal length of time).
  3. Without distractions (put DND on your phone etc.), work on that one task for the duration. Once the timer goes off, record the time you finished.
  4. Take your break – this could be anything from 2 to 5 minutes (or whatever works for you).
  5. Once you’ve reached your 4 pomodoro cycles, you take your longer break. (15 – 30 minutes is what’s suggested).

Energy Considerations

Side note – if you don’t feel like these timings will be suitable for you, I recommend starting with a more comfortable version of this to begin with. You may find that 25 minutes is too long, or you may find it’s not long enough.

Prepare to spend a little time finding your flow with this. But do be mindful that you don’t increase your pomodoro sessions too high or too soon, because it may lessen any potential benefits.

Equally, if 2 to 5 minutes is not long enough for a break, perhaps start with 7, but again be mindful that it doesn’t then impact your ability to get back into the zone.

For the longer breaks, stick to the higher 30 minutes and once you’re into more of a routine with it, you can then look at decreasing that time.

Planning & Reflection

When adopting the Pomodoro Technique, you need to be clear on what tasks need your attention. Setting clear goals, and breaking them into smaller, manageable steps, is essential for any productivity method.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you need to both plan for the work you will be doing, as well as how you will run your sessions throughout the day / week.

Planning Tips:

  • Use your monthly planning and goals to create your 4-weekly outlines.
  • Break into smaller goals / milestones where needed.
  • Prioritise Tasks (Brain dumps are great for this).
  • Each week, plan the week ahead. I tend to do this on a Sunday to remove any doubt of what I’m going to be working on the next day.
  • As you make your daily plans, pay attention to how much time these tasks will take overall. If the task will take you 3+ hours, break it into even smaller steps. This will make the Pomodoro sessions flow more smoothly.
  • Choose your focus and break times & add to your planner. Time Blocking planning pages can be great for this approach.
  • Review both your progress and how the sessions flowed at the end of each day and week, and make any adaptations to your approach.
  • If tasks don’t take long, batch similar tasks together. This blog post explores task batching in more detail.
  • Choose the timer you will use. There is a timer you can use on your phone, or there are lots of apps you can download. Zapier has a post with 5 of the best Pomodoro Technique Apps.

Tools, Resources & Support

My favourite tools that supports my daily productivity and business are:

Sunsama – A brilliant task management that is perfect for busy and neurodiverse minds who easily find themselves overwhelmed and distracted. grab a free 2 week trial and free month!

Time Audit – Gain a clear understanding of exactly where your time and your energy is spent. Highly recommend doing this if you're planning to focus on increased productivity.

Tailwind – Fantastic scheduling tool. Great for Pinterest and repurposing across different social media platforms.

Canva Pro – Upgrade your content design with Canva Pro. Explore the enhanced features available in Pro. Grab your free trial here.

Etsy – Are you ready to create your own online store? Etsy is a brilliant shopping platform that's used by millions. Setting up your store is simple, and when you sign up with this link we both get 40 free listings!

Final Thoughts

I like the Pomodoro Technique, and it can be a really useful productivity method. It’s particularly good if you’re struggling to stop feeling overwhelmed with long to-do lists, or you’re finding it difficult to focus on your work.

It’s something I recommend to my students if they are finding it tough to sit and write essays, or revise, and all have found it useful.

I find it helps me on those days when you cannot find the umph to get going or to work on more challenging tasks. 

However, I do think it has some limitations. Whilst it’s good to use as part of your overall productivity, it can be easy to get into the mindset of needing to get things done as quickly as possible.

With gentle productivity, you know that consistency is more important – which this does support, but there is a risk that it could add too much pressure if energy is an issue for you.

It also encourages the stop and start cycle of working. This could actually lessen productivity because it can take a while to get your focus back. So if you’re working in smaller sessions, time could be wasted trying to get your concentration back on the task in hand.

But equally, if you need to have more frequent breaks to maintain your energy, you can easily adapt this method to make it work for you. I find that when I work in focus sessions like this – with zero distractions, I work much better.

You don’t have to turn it into a challenge – you can simply use these 25 minute sessions to guide your focus!

I would love to know what your thoughts are on The Pomodoro Technique, and how it’s helped you!

If this post helped or you enjoyed reading it, please share one of the images below as it really helps my blog – Thank You!

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Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Shop.QuietlyConquer? Find DFY templates, downloads & more!

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