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Improve Your Productivity with the Pompodoro Technique

By John Millen

Many of my clients and friends talk about how working from home has made their days blend in with one another. At the end of a day interspersed with video or phone meetings, they feel like they didn’t accomplish anything important.

Believe me, I’ve felt the same way. I had an office near downtown for years but realized it was useless since I traveled every week. So, eight years ago I started working from home. But not being home all the time, as is the current mode.

I recently adopted a simple solution that has helped immensely in this Covid cocoon.  I have created 25-minute timed sprints, followed by a mandatory 5-minute break. In fact, I’m using that technique to write this article and the timer says I have 17 minutes remaining.

This practice is commonly referred to as the "Pomodoro Technique." It was developed in the 1980s by a then-college student in Italy named Francesco Cirillo. The word "Pomodoro" is Italian for tomato.

Cirillo coined the term after the tomato-like kitchen timer he used to gauge his intervals. Cirillo has created a business with resources around the concept. You can learn more at his website.


I’ve kept it simple by ordering this $19 timer from Amazon.* It can be set for up to 60 minutes. (It also works in the kitchen, of course.) This is an easy way to increase your productivity.

I keep a list of my important tasks for the day and choose one, or a part of a larger task, and get to work for 25 minutes. The timer beeps and I grab some coffee or a snack.

You could also use your phone as a timer, but I prefer to set my phone on do not disturb and refuse to be distracted by anything else.

At the end of the day, I might have a handful of tasks I completed or on which I made significant progress. Some days having even one critical task completed feels like a major win. You have to take victories where you can in this new world.

Just for your context, I’ve been accused of being an overly enthusiastic person so I’ll resist my urge to call this "life-changing." Nonetheless, I have (the timer just beeped) really found the Pomodoro technique to be a significant productivity tool in my work-from-home world. 

Studies find that human beings today have a 7-second attention span. Given that fact, any tactic or tool that brings real focus will pay outsized dividends in your productivity. 

Give it try and use my contact page to let me know how it goes.



* Amazon affiliate link

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John Millen

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