I Tried to Hate the Pomodoro Technique and Instead It's Changing My Life
Check out one working stiff's tomato-based timekeeping solution.
I’m not a life-hacking guy. I’m not a making any kind of changes guy, honestly. I’ve done 30 years pretty effectively. Or if not effectively, at least I’m familiar with my slog. So every year or so, I give some newfangled technique a shot, and when it falls on its face, I can point and laugh. See? I’m good as-is, y’all.
That didn’t happen this time, and I am furious.
Last year, I gave the Pomodoro Technique a spin. The Pomodoro Technique (yes, it’s a trademarked phrase) is the practice of choosing one task and making the small commitment of spending 25 minutes completely focused on that initiative. The name Pomodoro is derived from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Francesco Cirillo, the movement’s founder, used while developing the technique. Here’s a direct breakdown. Think of it as interval training for your to-do list. It combines time management, concentration, reflection, and iterative learning — basically, learning what works, and sticking to that for set lengths of time.
So 25 minutes of work with 5 minutes of break. On repeat forever. Not that big of a deal.
I tried it a year ago. Quit after three days. This just isn’t how my brain works. Tried it last week. Haven’t quit yet. I think it’s fixed my life.
Why did this version click with me? I had the right tools for the job: The To Do management software Trello with a Chrome plug-in called Pomello that links Trello cards to a Pomodoro timer on my desktop.
Yes, I can hear the nonsense coming out my mouth. I know what I sound like.
It’s a lot of work to sync to-do lists to a tiny timer that tells me to stop working. I know there are a dozen different phone apps that can do the same thing, which you can find by looking up any tomato based pun on the app store. But the on-desktop thing works for me.
There’s a ticking clock that reminds me I only have X amount of time left to work on my current project, which shuts down social media fuckaround time by a great deal. Honestly, the hardest problem with 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off is figuring out how to walk away and do something pleasurable elsewhere. Did you know that there’s an outside world that you can walk around in? I did not. That seems to also be a benefit of this app: forced sunshine.
Point being: a week-plus into Pomodoro, I’m afraid this is the most effective I’ve ever been. I have become … the kind of man who suggests life-hacks. This won’t happen again, I promise.