5-min read

Time Management with a Tomato

Time management is an all important and essential skill for all professionals in the business arena today. In this post, I’m going to define a process of splitting up the 24 hours of a day into smaller more manageable moments of time. If you are wondering what a tomato has to do with this, let me dis-pell the mystery. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique.

In this post, I will provide an overview of this technique of time management. The Pomodoro Technique was founded by Francesco Cirillo, a business consultant, while in university struggling to juggle his studies. Cirillo developed the technique in 1992 and named it after his tomato-shaped timer. “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato”. QED or Quad Errad Demonstratum i.e. hence proved.

Increasing Productivity

The basic concept entails setting a timer for a specific period of time. Until that timer goes off, focus on one task only, without any interrupting distractions (natural disasters and acts of God not withstanding). When the timer goes off, take a break for a short interval. Time management using this simple technique improves productivity in the following ways:

The Technique

The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique can be split in five simple steps:


A timer: You can use either a real timer or a software timer. Set it to 25 minutes. A sheet of paper: Blank paper, lined paper or any paper will do! A pencil - An eraser helps!

One pomodoro equals 25 minutes of singularly focused, uninterrupted work on a single task. The basic premise or principle of the Pomodoro Technique is that each pomodoro cannot be broken down further. Therefore one cannot work for half a pomodoro or even 10 minutes and then continue later. There’s no such thing as a part of a pomodoro. It’s all or nothing. If for any reason something comes up and you are forced to abandon the task, then you cancel that pomodoro and start over.

Every pomodoro is followed by a five-minute break. While the length of the break is subject to extension in cases of exhaustion or fatigue, the break shouldn’t be too long, since one tends to lose the flow of work. Appropriately the rest period after completing four pomodoros is 15 minutes long.

The Infernal Demons of Interruption

The Pomodoro Technique showcases specific ways to handle interruptions, by distinguishing internal from external interruptions.

Where can I get this Tomato?

The Pomodoro Technique also involves recording your tasks and pomodoros, estimating the effort needed for activities, allocating your available pomodoros, and more. You can implement only the parts that matter to your situation or requirement and still benefit from this technique.

If you want to learn more, you can download the Pomodoro Technique – book (FREE) and the Pomodoro Desktop (a desktop application for the Mac OSX.)

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