If you’re like me, the Pomodoro Technique may appeal to you more. It’s deceptively simple, to the point where it may make you wonder if it will work, but for people with a short attention span, it can be the perfect antidote.
The first step before using the Pomodoro Technique is familiarizing yourself with it. While the technique is simple, reading Francesco Cirillo’s book, provided as a free download on the site, is a great way to understand how it works and discover the ways in which you can use it to its full potential.
In order to use the technique, you need to begin your day by creating a plan. Make a list of the tasks you are going to tackle. An extremely simple To-Do list template, available for download with the PDF of the entire book, or as an individual sheet.
The basis of Cirillo’s concept is that all tasks should be done in increments of 25 minutes, followed by a 3 to 5 minute break. Each 25 minute time period is called a Pomodoro. After 4 Pomodoros, you can take a 15 to 30 minute break.
When planning your day, you need to estimate how many Pomodoros each task will take, although this is something you might not be able to do until you get a hang of the technique and understand exactly how you use your time.
In order to find the method that works best for you, there are several free apps that you can use to boost your productivity. While you can order the book and kit from their online store there are many free online and offline apps that are just as useful.
The Adobe Air app Pomodairo takes all of the essential elements of the Pomodoro technique and rolls them up into one tidy little package, and is the best choice for someone who wants the full Pomodoro experience.
You can use the app to create a task list, adding a short description and the estimated number of Pomodoros needed for the task.
Once you start the task, begin your timer. If you’re interrupted, hit the interruption button, after which you will have to re-set the timer for another 25 minutes to work on the task at hand.
Once the 25 minutes are up, the app’s alarm will go off (with a less than appealing buzz) after which it will start timing your break automatically, but rather than a 5 minute countdown, it will count up how long you take a break, with the buzzer going off at 5 minutes.
Right clicking a task allows you to mark it done/undone, edit it or remove it from the list.
Pomodairo is not only a great app to use to keep you on track, it also keeps a searchable log of your work and statistics, making it easy to analyse your work patterns and use of time.
Tomato Timer (Web)
If you’d rather not download an app, Tomato Timer is useful webapp for keeping track of your time. Unlike Pomodairo, the app does not account for your task list or log, so if you want to keep a task list or a log of your work you will have to use a separate app. Something as simple as a combination of Google Tasks and an Excel sheet would be sufficient.
As far as the online timer is concerned, you can start, stop and reset the timer for your Pomodoro, short and long break, and in the settings you can alter the lengths of each time period.
Tomato Timer is compatible with Chrome 4.0+, Firefox 3.5+, Internet Explorer 8.0+, Safari 4.0+, Opera 10.5+, and the iPhone & Android’s mobile browsers. Chrome users have the added benefit of desktop notifications and an alarm.
Focus Booster (Windows/Mac/Web)
Focus Booster is available as a desktop version, either as a free Adobe Air download or as a free Windows download, as well as as a free web-based version. Both the desktop and web versions don’t have any bells and whistles. A timer counts down your 25 minute Pomodoro.
A small alarm will sound and your 5 minute break will automatically begin.
Settings in the web version include toggling the alarm sound on and off, as well as toggling a clock ticking sound on and off.
Settings in the desktop version are identical, with the exception of having the choice to keep the Focus Booster window on top of other apps, and to bounce the dock icon when the time period is finished.
If keeping track of your work or visualising your use of time is important to you, Focus Booster isn’t the app for you. If on the other hand, you simply want to use the timed method of working without the analytical aspect of the Pomodoro Technique, it will be sufficient.
Have you used the Pomodoro Technique? Do you prefer it to the GTD Technique? Whatever be your productivity mantra, download MakeUseOf’s Smart Productivity Guide for more tips.
Also, let us know about your favorite Pomodro app.