The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as "pomodori", the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for "tomato". The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- Decide on the task to be done
- Set the pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally 25)
- Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
- Take a short break (3-5 minutes)
- Every four "pomodori" take a longer break (15–30 minutes)
The stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing are fundamental to the technique. In the planning phase tasks are prioritized by recording them in a "To Do Today" list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As "pomodori" are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.
For the purposes of the technique, "pomodoro" refers to the interval of time spent working. After task completion, any time remaining in the "pomodoro" is devoted to overlearning. Regular breaks are taken, aiding assimilation. A short (3-5 minute) rest separates consecutive "pomodori". Four "pomodori" form a set. A longer (15-30 minute) rest is taken between sets.
An essential aim of the technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. A "pomodoro" is indivisible. When interrupted during a "pomodoro" either the other activity must be recorded and postponed (inform – negotiate – schedule – call back) or the "pomodoro" must be abandoned.
The creator and others encourage a low-tech approach using a mechanical timer, paper and pencil. The physical act of winding up the timer confirms the user's determination to start the task; ticking externalises desire to complete the task; ringing announces a break. Flow and focus become associated with these physical stimuli.
The Pomodoro Technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that was first used by technique creator Francesco Cirillo when he was a university student.
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