Can’t focus? Get to work, now. Tomato.es is a free Pomodoro timer you can use directly in your browser – and it’s possibly the best such app I’ve ever used.
The Pomodoro technique is simple: work for 25 minutes, non-stop, then take a five minute break. Repeat three times, then take a 15 minute break. Continue repeating until all of your daily tasks are complete – or it’s time to sleep.
Confused? Don’t be – Tomato.es by Giovanni Cappellotto makes the process simple, and explains as you go. Just know that by scheduling – and limiting – breaks, focus becomes easier. You don’t need the willpower to avoid distraction completely, just to keep it contained to your break periods – which in turn leaves you feeling mentally refreshed for more work.
We’ve outlined free Pomodoro software in the past. One of them might be perfect for you, but for me Tomato.es is the best implementation of this concept I’ve found. Why? I’m glad you asked.
To get started, head to Tomato.es:
Click “Start” or press space and the Tomato time management app will start counting down from 24. A blackness slowly moves from left to right, giving you a quick way to see time progressing:
The idea here is to completely avoid distractions – Facebook, Reddit, video games, kitten pictures, and YouTube – while the timer is running. Sit down, do your work, and do absolutely nothing else. Focus.
When time runs out you’ll hear a bell ring. Head to the Tomato.es tab you left open and fill in what you’ve been working on – this will come in handy later, as you explore what it really is you spend all of your time on. Once you do you’ll see the break timer:
Here’s the deal: you can now go nuts. This is your reward for focusing for 25 minutes – a break. Feel free to head to whatever sites distract you most, or to play a game. I also like to get up and do something around the house for a bit. The chime will sound again when your break is complete, meaning it’s time to get back to work.
You get the idea: work for 25 minutes, then take five off. After four sessions your break will be 15 minutes. Stick to this and you’ll be surprised just how much work you can get done in a day.
Where Does The Time Go?
Wondering what exactly you’re spending your time on? Regular Tomato time management users can check this out, assuming they’ve got an account, and have been faithfully tagging their 25-minute sessions. Just click your username to view your profile:
From here you can tweak the web app’s settings and view your “Rewards”. Scroll down and you’ll get to the data. A calendar outlines how many 25 minute work sessions you’ve managed every day:
This is a great way to track whether you’re getting better or worse when it comes to focus. It’s not a complete metric – obviously some work is done away from the computer, and that probably won’t be tracked here. But it’s useful.
(Don’t give me crap for the first week in June – I was on vacation).
Scroll down a little more and you’ll see which hours of the day you complete the most Pomodoros. This is a great way for you to discover when during the day you typically focus better.
Finally, you can check out a complete list of your tags. The list will count your Pomodoros by hour, showing you what you’re using the most time on. This can be a really handy reference, assuming you tag consistently, so don’t negect doing so.
Want to track a particular project? You can do that too. Simply click the “Track Project” button on the home page, then specify when a particular Pomodoro was spent working on that project.
Here’s an interesting concept: a leaderboard. Borrowed from games, this allows you to compete with the roughly 6000 Tomato.es users in focusing the most on a given day:
Of course, working as much as some of these people might be bad for your health. Don’t kill yourself trying to win…
I discovered this app thanks to HabitRPG, which makes improving yourself addictive. That project’s Chrome extension integrates nicely with Tomato.es, hurting your character when your don’t work through a 25 minute session. Check it out if leveling up for getting your work done sounds fun (it is). By the way, Tomato.es comes with its own Chrome extension.
Having said that, I want to know what you’re using Tomato.es to accomplish. What do you need to focus on this week? I’m curious as always, so let me know in the comments below. I’m looking forward to it!
Hate productivity? Check out my guide to being completely unproductive online. It outlines how to be fully and completely distracted while still feeling tired, if that’s what you really want.