The Pomodoro Technique: How to Master Your Time in 25-Minute Blocks

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If you’re like most people, time management can be a challenge.

Odds are you’re bombarded with work tasks, personal projects, lengthy to-do lists and constant emails flooding your inbox.

So, how do you get it all done in the most efficient manner?

One possible solution is to use a popular time blocking system called the Pomodoro Technique.

In this article, I’ll talk about how the 25-minute Pomodoro technique can help you laser-focus on important tasks, while avoiding the distractions that are common with the modern work experience.

Let's get to it…

(Side note: Another positive ​way to improve your life is to read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest FREE, informative news from this website.)


Why is Effective Time Management Important?

A few years back, I discovered a simple truth called Parkinson’s Law.  It states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. (Click to ReTweet!)

Put succinctly, this rule means that the more time you “give” a project, the longer you’ll take to complete it.  Have a deadline a week from now?  Odds are you’ll take the full week to do it.

The best way to combat Parkinson’s Law is to manufacture strict deadlines with yourself and to literally have a ticking clock in the background as you work on each task.  Not only will this help you become more productive, you’ll also “get more time” that can be spent doing the fun things in life.

Think of it this way:

There are only 675,450 hours in the average human life. Every hour that’s wasted is an hour you won’t get back. If you’re working hard every day but not getting measurable results, then you’re wasting your life—one hour at a time.

The solution is simple:

Stop randomly working on projects. Instead, create a plan for the important tasks and work on each with a completely focused mindset.  And the best tool for doing this is through the Pomodoro Technique.

Check out this video that explores how the Pomodoro technique can help you become hyper-focused on important tasks.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Simply put: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique where you break down all of your tasks into 25 minute focused blocks of time.

Between each time block, there is a five minute break.  And after completing four Pomodoros you take a longer break—usually 15 to 30 minutes.

In the late 1980's, Francesco Cirillo first came up with the Pomodoro System (you can check out his site for more information.) Cirillo came up with the name (which is an Italian word for “tomato”) because he utilized a tomato-shaped egg timer when managing his time.

In theory, this strategy works because you completely focus on one task (like writing) without shifting focus or multitasking.  When the clock is ticking, you ignore the urge to check email, hop on Facebook, answer text messages or do any other distracting activity.  You’re in the zone and completely focused.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about the Pomodoro Technique. I used to work on tasks whenever I felt like it.  Sometimes that meant two hours of uninterrupted work and other times it was for a few minutes while watching television.

However, after using this technique for over three years, I can honestly say it’s been a “game-changer” when it comes to improving my personal productivity.  It doesn’t matter what task I’m doing—writing, answering email, social media or marketing—the ticking clock in the background keeps me focused on the task at hand.

If you decide to implement this system you’ll be able to:

  • Eliminate the multi-tasking habit.
  • Be more focused on your work (or other high-leverage activities.)
  • Get more things done because you’ll have a sense of urgency.
  • Avoid the perfectionist mindset by overly “fine-tuning” a project.
  • Build higher levels of willpower and concentration.
  • Decrease stress levels because you’re doing one thing at a time.

That just a taste of what your life could be like by using the Pomodoro technique.  So let’s talk about to develop this time-blocking habit.

5 Steps for Using the Pomodoro Technique

Here is an overview of the 5-step process for implementing the Pomodoro technique:

  1. Choose your task and total time to work on it.
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes (either with an egg timer or with an app).
  3. Work on the task for 25 minutes.  Avoid all distractions and urges to multi-task.
  4. Take a 5-minute break for energy renewal, start another Pomodoro.
  5. Take a 20-30 minute break after completing four Pomodoros.
Pomodoro Technique - Time Blocking Method

Simple, but very effective.  When you use this technique you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your productivity and ability to get things done.

Optional: My 4 Rules for the Pomodoro Technique

Like any system, there are rules to follow and rules to ignore.  That’s why I recommend an optional variation on the above system.  Here are four guidelines that can maximize your results:

Rule #1: Breaks are NOT Optional

When that buzzer rings, stop work, get up and take a break.  You need this time for your mind to relax and to get energized for that next task.  Use it to: Do simple exercises, grab a snack, go to the restroom, stretch or make a cup of tea.  It really doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you’re taking a break.

Rule #2: Time Length = Challenge of Task

What I’m about to suggest breaks the primary rule of the Pomodoro Technique… so use it at your own discretion:

My suggestion is to work in multiples of the 25-minute block.

The actual amount of time I spent fully-focused on a task depends on its level of difficulty. 

Easy tasks (i.e.; a low level of concentration) can be completed in 50-minute (2 Pomodoros) or 1 hour and 15-minute (3 Pomdoros) blocks of time.

Harder tasks (i.e.; a high level of concentration) can be completed using the standard 25-minute block of time.

Really, the number of Pomodoros you do should relate to how long you can focus on a task without feeling distracted.


Writing isn’t an easy task for me because it requires a high level of concentration.  So whenever I’m writing, I’ll do it in 25- or 50-minute blocks of time (1 to 2 Pomodoros).

On other hand, answering email and corresponding over social media are simple easy to complete.  So, I’ll often set my clock for 3 Pomodoros (1 hour and 15 minutes) and get a whole lot of correspondence completed in a short burst of time.

Rule #3: Partial Pomodoros Do Count

Again, I’m about to recommend a strategy that doesn’t align with the rules of the Pomodoro Technique.  One thing that Francesco Cirillo is adamant about is that half-completed Pomodoros don’t count.  Let’s say you get interrupted 10 minutes into a task, then that means you get no “credit” for the task and have to start over.

I completely disagree with this statement.

In my opinion, 10 minutes of work is still work.  If you get interrupted, all you have to do is record your time and then add it to the next Pomodoro.  Once you’ve completed that Pomodoro, you’ll get credit for doing two Pomodoros.

Here’s how this works:

  • You’re writing for 15 minutes and get an important call.
  • You quickly write down “15 min” on your to-do list and talk to that person.
  • You finish the conversation and get back to work.
  • You start a new Pomodoro, adding the time from the uncompleted task.
  • In this case it would be 35 minutes [25 minutes (1st Pomodoro) – 15 minutes + 25 minutes (2nd Pomodoro) = 35 minutes].

I’ll admit this process would probably piss off many “hard-line Pomodoro fanatics,” but I feel it’s important to develop the mindset that you can do quality work in small blocks of time (like 5- to 10-minutes). 

When you give yourself “credit” for making an effort—even in a minuscule amount of time—you’ll be more likely to maximize those small blocks of time that you get throughout the day.

Tasks that take less than 25 minutes should be grouped together instead of being done separately.

For instance, I have a task that’s labeled “social media communication,” which includes talking to people through email, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook.  Each site might only take five minutes of my time, so I’ve developed a system where I run a few back-to-back Pomodoros and go through all of them at once.

Pomodoro Technique Apps and Tools

The great thing about the Pomodoro method is you don’t need a fancy tool or guide to get started.  Really, the only “requirement” is to use an app or a simple egg-timer.  So let’s go over the benefits of both.

Why an egg-timer?

There are two reasons why an egg timer works well for a Pomodoro. First, the physical act of winding a timer gives you that mental commitment to start working on the task. Second, the “tick-tick-tick” sound of the egg-timer creates a sense of urgency and makes you stay committed to the task.

Why an app?

Egg timers can be a bit “old school” for some, so an alternative solution is to use apps that are designed for your computer and/or mobile phone.  There are lots of good ones out there—some even have that audible ticking sound that’s great for Pomodoros.  Here are a few of my favorite:

If you want to learn more, read our review of the latest and best pomodoro apps to help you increase your productivity!

I recommend you test and experiment with a few different Pomodoro apps before settling on one.  It took me a few months before I settled on the simple ticking clock app that I use on a daily basis.

Start Time Blocking Using the Pomodoro Method—Today!

Your life is ticking away–one hour at a time.

Would you rather:

(A) Spend your time waffling around from project to project?


(B) Spend your time completely focused on each task to maximize your results?

Hopefully you picked option B.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you can quickly “get in the zone” and do your best work in the most efficient manner. While you might think it’s too regimented, this method is considered, by many entrepreneurs to be a  secret to achieving work/life balance.  When the clock is ticking you’re working hard and when it stops, you get to do fun things and enjoy life.

Now, if you'd like to discover additional resources related to time management and productivity, then I recommend checking out the other articles we've published on this site:

Finally, if you want another positive ​way to improve your life, then read and learn something new every day. A great tool to do this is to join over 1 million others and start your day with the latest FREE, informative news from this website.


pomodoro technique blog post

8 thoughts on “The Pomodoro Technique: How to Master Your Time in 25-Minute Blocks”

  1. I use pomodoros, especially for writing. Lately I’ve been using play lists on Spotify as my timer. I’ve made 4 playlists of instrumental music that are roughly 25 minutes and those accompany the 4 pomodoros I like to do each week day on my writing.

  2. I’ve attempted the Pomodoro Technique in the past and failed. My biggest challenge is stopping at the 25-minute mark when I’m in the middle of something that I feel I need to complete. Perhaps I’ll try the 2-Pomodoro block of time and then maybe I’ll be more willing to stop and take the break. Thanks for these suggestions on alternative Pomodoro methods.

  3. Hi, Scott,

    Thanks for the info! I bought a timer on Amazon (love Prime) that you hang around your neck and it is working out great.


  4. Hi SJ,

    Great post, my friend.

    What I appreciate about your post is the reminder that our lives are ticking away and we need to consciously take control to ensure we use our time productively. The Pomodoro technique and your adaptation of it seems like a great way to do this.

    Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  5. I thought that I invented the “mini” pomodoro, lol.

    I use a google app called, well they call it mootsi now.

    There’s no ticking noise which I hate. I prefer a youtube video with rain or waves or something ambient. It really makes for a wonderful study or reading session.

  6. Hey I just bought 4 of your books off amazon for kindle (though I read on my computer).

    I have to admit that I was introduced to you through a torrent of Writing Mastery Habit which I’m half way through, and loving, but that and the content of this blog made me buy almost your entire collection Including that ebook. Well, that and the price, almost too reasonable, lol. I mean I just paid $20 for ONE other ebook (pdf actually) which is also brilliant and succinct.

    I love the new age of self publishing.

    • Mike,

      Thanks a lot for your support and patronage, I am really glad you like the books, it means a lot, since I do strive to make them valuable and worthwhile at the price. I wish you had held off on the Evernote book however, since I have an Evernote book in pipeline. I even have a chapter on setting it up for a David Allen GTD style system. 😉 Though perhaps not as in depth as that book on GTD, since I come at it from a more generic angle. (I am sure that book is awesome, though. not disparaging it in any way)

      I agree, as both a writer AND a reader, I love the age of self publishing, specifically now that more quality books are coming out in that route.

      Thanks a lot for the awesome comment. Have a great day!

  7. Hello S. J.!
    A quick note just to congratulate and thank you for the great article. It helped me a lot.
    Best regards,

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