Pomodoro Method

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Hi guys, it’s Sam here.

You might have seen me discussing the Pomodoro method on our Instagram stories or youtube videos. A few people messaged me and wanted me to explain more about the Pomodoro method. For all intents and purposes, it’s not a technique that I invented and created by the great entrepreneur and developer Francesco Cirillo, and he even wrote a 125-page book on it.

I’ve combined this technique with other time management techniques to extract the most out of my day and output an incredible amount of work in a typical workday. I’ll describe the physical to-do list system I use later, but shall I get to it?

1/ What is the Pomodoro method?

So, what on earth is the Pomodoro method? Let’s break it down. Picture yourself faced with a task. It could be as small as cleaning your desk or something meatier like finishing a report. With the Pomodoro Technique, you’re not just diving in blindly. Instead, you will set a timer for a focused 25-minute sprint, known as a ‘Pomodoro’. For that slot of time, you’re one with your task. It’s a no-distraction zone, just pure, focused work.

When that timer buzzes, it’s break time! But not too long – you’ve earned a 5-minute chill sesh. Grab a coffee, stretch your legs, or enjoy a quiet breather. This cycle, between work and rest, repeats four times. After that, it’s time for a more extended break. Something like 15 to 30 minutes to properly relax and recharge your brain before the next set of Pomodoros.

The beauty of the Pomodoro method lies in its adaptability. Sure, the original version is about 25-minute work sprints and 5-minute breaks, but who’s to say you can’t tweak it? You may be someone who can power through for extended periods, or perhaps you thrive with more frequent breather breaks. That’s the beauty of the Pomodoro method– it allows you to create blocks of time that suit your capabilities.

For me, the Pomodoro Technique has been a game-changer. It’s helped me streamline my workday, maximize productivity, and still avoid feeling like I’m running on empty. Plus, it’s integral to my physical to-do list system, which I’ll discuss soon. So, stick around for that, and give the Pomodoro Technique a shot.

Pomodoro method explained

2/ Quick Tips on the Pomodoro Method

A/ If you got a heavy task, break it down into several smaller sub-tasks and then work the smaller sub-tasks and track how many Pomodoro’s it takes to go through each sub-task.

B/ Sometimes, you can get a 30-40 minute block out in one go at the start; I would do that and then reduce it to 25 minutes later in the day as I get a bit more worn out. The 30-40 minute blocks at the start can help you build momentum for getting through these sub-tasks. But this depends on what person you are – so try it and see if it works for you.

C/ In a given day, I would usually max out at about 14-16 Pomodoros – Beyond that, the quality of work becomes very questionable, and I would need to complete rework on those tasks completed in the latter part of the day on the following day. The truth is, the average would be close to around 12 pomodoros based on my experience.

D/ Keep a record of how many Pomodoro you spent on each task for future reference and to assist with the planning of time blocking (another method) that I will talk about soon.

3/ Using it with a To-Do List

Along with this method, I use a physical to-do list system I designed. The plan was designed to keep the tasks that are really important in front of you and visible to you in physical form. I’ve improved the design to version 3.0, allowing for better Pomodoro system use.

If you’re looking for a physical Pomodoro timer – we sell it in our store.

I start the day by categorizing the tasks based on the size (whether big or medium, or small); I try to limit it to 2-3 because, from testing, I know I can’t complete that many big tasks if I want to keep it within 12-16 Pomodoros. So when I say “big” or “medium”, what does that actually mean?

To summarise, I created the following table based on my experience.

Big Tasks

– My daily max: 2 ~ 3

– Total number of sub-tasks per “big” task between 4-7

– Time taken: 2 ~ 4 hrs for the entire big task.

Medium Tasks

– My daily max: 3~7

– Total number of sub-tasks per “medium” task between 2-7

– Time taken: 1 ~ 3 hrs for the entire medium task

So the idea is to use Pomodoro’s to slowly knock off the sub-tasks until the entire task is complete. Now you might be asking, what if my tasks are “extra big” and take longer than the window you’ve prescribed above? In that case, I would break these “extra big tasks’ into multiple “big tasks” and spend multiple days working through them for optimal efficiency.

To use the physical to-do list system, I would keep all the big/medium tasks on the left side and then all the associated sub-tasks on the right side. After completing one big or medium task, I will put in all the sub-tasks associated with the next big or medium task on the right side.

If you want to follow along with the development of my physical to-do list system – See this page.

4/ Why is the method effective?

This is the most efficient method to get people started. The perception of 25/5 minute blocks feels like a short period and easier to push yourself to get things started. Once you get started, it also helps you block out distractions. A bit of planning is involved in the tasks to make the method even more efficient, and we’ll talk about that in the last part of this article.

Why is it Easy to get started?

First, the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t require fancy gadgets or complicated software to get started. All you need is a task and a timer, anything from your phone’s stopwatch to a kitchen timer I used initially. There’s no steep learning curve or technical hurdles to cross, making it accessible for anyone. You choose a task, set your timer, and start!

Secondly, the Pomodoro Technique isn’t a rigid, one-size-fits-all system, and it’s more like a set of guidelines you can tweak to fit your work style. You can adjust if the traditional 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest don’t suit you, and you could work better with longer or shorter intervals. The point is to find a rhythm that maximizes your productivity and comfort, making it a breeze to adopt.

Finally, the beauty of the Pomodoro Technique lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t demand significant changes to your workflow or lifestyle. You’re not uprooting your entire routine but enhancing it with a structured and efficient approach. You can apply it to any task, big or small, at work or home. This versatility and adaptability make the Pomodoro Technique an easy and effective tool to incorporate into your daily routine.

Resisting Distractions

Firstly, the Pomodoro Technique creates a clear boundary between work and play. When you start that timer, you’re committing to focus solely on your task for a set period. Anything unrelated to your mission – a notification, a quick YouTube video, or a social media scroll – is off-limits until your timer rings. This simple rule makes it easier to say ‘no’ to distractions because you know you’ve got a break coming up soon.

Secondly, by breaking your work into bite-sized pieces, the Pomodoro Technique makes it easier to maintain focus. It’s much harder to stay engaged with a task when looking at hours of uninterrupted work. But it feels more manageable when you’re only asking yourself to concentrate for a short burst. This reduces the temptation to let your mind wander or to reach for distractions.

Finally, the regular breaks built into the Pomodoro Technique are vital in keeping distractions at bay. They provide a designated time to address anything non-work related that’s been on your mind. You can check your messages, browse social media, or take care of any other minor distractions, knowing you won’t interrupt your work.

Looking back at the results

Each Pomodoro – that 25-minute chunk of focused work – serves as a unit of measure for your productivity. Say you’ve been working on a report and completed five Pomodoro’s. That means you’ve devoted more than two hours of focused, productive work towards that task. You get a clear idea of how much time and effort you put into each task.

You may start off only able to work intensely for one or two Pomodoros. But as you stick with the technique, you can complete more Pomodoros daily. You’re not only boosting your productivity; you’re also building your ability to focus and resist distractions. It’s like a workout for your brain, and you get to track your ‘fitness’ progress!

Finally, the sense of satisfaction comes with completing each Pomodoro. When you set that timer, you’re setting a goal. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of achievement when you hit that goal. Each completed Pomodoro is a tangible sign of your progress, which can be hugely motivating, especially for larger, more daunting tasks.


I hope this article helped explain how to use the Pomodoro timer more efficiently in your daily life and how to get the most out of your day. We’re pushing for productivity at MDS, so If you’re interested in this content, consider subscribing to our new productivity email list!

As always, if you have any questions, reach out to me on our socials (IG: @minimal.desksetups)

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