The Pomodoro Technique (Explained in 4 Minutes)

The Pomodoro Technique Cover

What is the Pomodoro Technique? How does it work? And how can it help you be more productive?

Hi there, friend with great questions! My name is Nik. I’m a writer. Over the last 10 years, I have written millions of words. The Pomodoro Technique is how it all began. I first used it in 2015. Today, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about this great productivity tool in just 4 minutes!

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks work into 25-minute chunks followed by 5-minute breaks. It makes work feel less overwhelming. It also helps users focus on individual tasks for longer periods of time.

How Does It Work?

At its core, the Pomodoro Technique only has 4 steps:

  1. Choose a task.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Work only on that task until the timer ends.
  4. When the timer rings, take a 5-minute break.

This 30-minute unit of work time and break time is considered one “pomodoro.” To stack the technique’s effect, its creator Francesco Cirillo suggests doing 4 pomodoros in a row, then taking a longer break of up to 30 minutes before repeating the process.

Why Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?

According to the inventor, the 2 main benefits of the technique are:

  1. Being more gentle with yourself about using your time well.
  2. Making time an ally when it most feels like an enemy.

Common sense suggests several others:

  • 25 minutes are enough to make substantial progress on a well-chosen task.
  • 25 minutes are easy to sit through and slog out, even when it’s not going well.
  • The technique forces you to define your tasks well and do so in advance.
  • Knowing exactly where your time went makes it easier to feel proud at the end of the day.

Kat Boogaard sees 2 more:

  • The ticking timer creates a sense of urgency.
  • You’ll feel less burnt out at the end of the day.

Laura Scroggs additionally suggests that:

  • The technique makes it easy to just get started on a task, even if it feels daunting when considered as a whole.
  • Pomodoros are like points in a game. It’s easy to stay motivated, collect more pomodoros, and try to do better each round.

Finally, scientifically speaking

How Can I Get the Most Out of Using the Pomodoro Technique?

From several years of personal experience as well as plenty of research into the science of habits, here are 5 tips to ensure you’ll make the Pomodoro Technique work for you:

  1. Use a physical timer: While there are plenty of digital timers around, physical triggers are especially powerful in getting us to stick to our habits. Even the minimal effort of picking up a timer, winding it, and then listening to it tick and ring will make a profound difference. Your brain will form mental loops around these physical cues. Similarly, checking pomodoros off with pen and paper will help further cement the habit.
  2. Use the timer during breaks as well: Just like 25 minutes might feel long in the beginning, 5 minutes of break time will pass in a jiffy. Time both work and breaks.
  3. Actually stick to the timer: This is the hardest and most important part. Be rigorous with your pomodoros. Give it some time before giving up. It’s easy to keep rolling for too long or get lost in breaks, but after some adjustment, you’ll see that it works.
  4. Customize the length of your pomodoros: If you’re a writer, you might want 45 or 50 minutes instead of 25. If you’re doing cold calls, you might want to shoot for 15 only. Find an ideal pomodoro size for your work and personal energy levels, and you’ll also have an easier time sticking to them.
  5. Chunk your work accordingly: As you map out tasks and projects, try to split them into pomodoro-sized chunks from the get-go. You won’t always get it right, but you’ll feel more motivated to keep going.

Who Invented the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique (Francesco Cirillo)

In the summer of 1987, German-Italian programmer Francesco Cirillo was trying to study for his sociology exam. He couldn’t focus. “I made a humble bet with myself,” he says. “‘Can you stay focused for two minutes without distraction?'” Cirillo grabbed a timer from his kitchen, wound it up to two minutes, and started reading his book. It worked. The Pomodoro Technique was born.

Cirillo continued refining the Pomodoro Method until 1992, and he has been teaching it in the ideal 25-minute version to individuals since 1998. In 2006, he published a 45-page paper, which has since turned into a 130-page book.

The method has found more and more followers over time, and today, millions use it to be productive every single day. Cirillo now runs a consulting company helping firms and individuals implement the technique and other, related tools for better work results.

Why Is It Called “Pomodoro?”

The Pomodoro Technique (Pomodoro Timer) by Marco Verch
Image via Marco Verch

Pomodoro is the Italian word for “tomato.” 🍅 Back when Cirillo invented the technique, kitchen timers were often shaped like tomatoes — especially in Italy, where Cirillo spent his summer holidays. The timer he grabbed the very first time he tried to focus on his sociology book happened to be shaped like a tomato — hence “the Pomodoro Technique!”

Are There Any Pomodoro Timer Apps?

Any? How about hundreds? I have personally used:

There’s also:

…as well as countless Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, and any-other-platform-imaginable-compatible solutions. But again: Investing into a physical timer will be worth it.

The digital world is where most of our distractions come from. By separating your timer from your screen and enduring the physical ticking in the background, you’ll have a much easier time making the Pomodoro Technique a habit.

Where Can I Learn More About the Pomodoro Technique?

If you want to get more information straight from the horse’s mouth, read The Pomodoro Technique* by Francesco Cirillo. Here’s a quick overview of the book.

The Pomodoro Technique (Book Cover)

Favorite Quote

“One day we will be more creative, more productive and yet more relaxed.” — Francesco Cirillo

The Book in One Sentence

The Pomodoro Technique* is the simplest way to productively manage your time with only two lists and a timer, by breaking down your workload into small, manageable chunks to stay fresh and focused throughout your day.

Key Takeaways

  1. Chunk your work so you won’t drown in it.
  2. Use physical stimuli to develop flow and focus.
  3. Commit to each Pomodoro as if you’re getting married

If you want to learn more, you can read our free, four-minute summary or get a copy for yourself:


That’s it! All you need to know in order to start using the Pomodoro Technique. I hope this tool will help you be more productive. If you have any questions, simply tweet @fourminutebooks! Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you around! 👋🏻

Last Updated on June 26, 2023