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The Pomodoro Technique: A Productivity Hack That Actually Works
by Jake Croman
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June 13, 2024
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Man working at desk

If you had to identify one hurdle preventing you from achieving your career goals, what would it be?

If you list productivity as a dominant weakness of yours, you have something in common with more than half the workforce. Over 50 percent of employees struggle with staying on task at work. Technology is partly to blame. All of these employees admit that their smartphones are a curse to their productivity. But then there's all the other factors that contribute to ineffectiveness: boredom, burnout, and lack of on-the-job training, just to name a few.

Productivity is such a shared struggle that there are countless books, articles, apps, and podcasts dedicated to helping professionals reclaim their productivity. I've consumed a lot of this material. If I'm being honest, I've never really bought into all the tips, tricks, and 'hacks' that get shared around the business world. More often than not, they're just bandaids thrown on an issue that requires actual solutions.

But then I found the Pomodoro Technique. And it changed everything.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages professionals to work with the time they have, rather than against it. It may feel like you have so many hours in a day to work on your to-do list, but if you don't understand how to utilize your time wisely, you can end up drowning in it.

Before I dive deeper into the Pomodoro Technique, here is an outline of its structure:

  • Pick one task or project you want to focus on
  • Set a timer — you can use the free timer on their app or buy a physical timer for your desk — for 25 minutes and start working
  • When the timer stops, take a five-minute break
  • Repeat (4x)
  • After four sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
  • Record each session with a checkmark or an X in your notebook

These short bursts of active working time are referred to as pomodoros. The intention behind setting a timer is to give you a sense of urgency in working through your task or project, but in very manageable chunks of time. Then, the short breaks that follow give you some time to sit back and unwind before starting the next pomodoro. 

This technique was designed to combat multitasking, improve concentration, and help professionals regain a sense of ownership over their schedules. It's even more advantageous for employees whose roles require them to use multiple tools and platforms simultaneously, like team chats, email, and social media.

The Pomodoro Technique's power is in its simplicity. Over two million people use this technique to structure their days and swear by its effectiveness — and I'm one of them.

What Makes the Pomodoro Technique So Effective?

I briefly touched on the benefits of this technique in the previous section, so let's unpack its effectiveness below.

Reduces Workplace Distractions and Improves Time Management

One distraction can spur a landslide of other distractions. Even something as small and seemingly inconsequential as checking your email when you're in the middle of a task or project can be enough to throw off your productivity. Let me set the scene.

You check your email, only to see that it's a colleague asking you a question about another project. You type up a response, which reminds you that you still need to finalize a few details in a document. You start editing that doc, but now you need to ask another person on your team for more information. You walk over to their desk, because that's faster than shooting them an email, and spend a few minutes talking about the project. Then, that leads you into a conversation about last night's football game. You stand there for another 15 minutes talking about the game before going back to your desk. When you sit down, you quickly check your phone to see if you've received any texts during the time you were gone. You shoot off a few quick replies to those, and then go to get back to work. But now you realize you've completely lost your train of thought.

Every one of us knows this scenario all too well. If you would have avoided checking your email and kept working through your task until the time was up, you would have made way more progress. If you struggle with productivity, it's important to stay hyperfocused on a single task rather than trying to balance a number of things at once. 

Decreases Stress and Anxiety

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of the Pomodoro Technique is that it helps reduce the burnout that comes from a chaotic schedule. 

Stress and anxiety in the workplace are sky-high in today's world, which is part of what spurred the 'Great Resignation' across a number of industries. Employees who are more productive maintain a more positive attitude at work, therefore experiencing less stress and anxiety.

Keeps You Accountable

Over half of the workforce struggles with productivity because so many of us fall victim to the planning fallacy, which is when we underestimate the amount of time we need to complete a task, even though we know how much time similar tasks have taken us in the past.

Professionals who track their time and progress when using the Pomodoro Technique get a glimpse into how they work, and can use that understanding as a weapon against the planning fallacy. By taking accountability over your time, you can develop a more positive relationship with your schedule and make better progress not only in your day-to-day tasks, but towards your career goals as a whole.

Productivity is key to your success, but it's not always something that comes easy. If you're looking for a hack that works, try the Pomodoro Technique.

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About the author
Jake Croman Headshot
Jake Croman
Jake Croman is an entrepreneur who lives and works in New York City. He is Vice President at Centennial Properties NY, where he oversees leasing and acquisitions, and is also an active real estate investor who primarily devotes his time to restaurants, medically supply companies, and fashion brands. Jake is also a consultant for a number of diverse retail concepts.
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