Front-End Insights

Does the Pomodoro technique work?


Looks like this week we only have productivity posts on the front-end insights blog 😉 Last time I wrote a few words about Nozbe, a great GTD tool. Today I will show you a Pomodoro technique which can help you to focus on your tasks. We will try to find out if it is effective.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

According to wikipedia, the Pomodoro technique is a time management method which was created by Francesco Cirillo. The main concept of this technique is to break down your tasks into smaller intervals and separate them by a short break. These intervals are called pomodoros – Cirillo owned a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.

Every interval usually lasts 25 minutes and the break should last 5 minutes. This should, in theory, improve your mental agility.

We can distinguish four steps of the technique:

  1. Decide on the task to work on
  2. Set the timer (25 minutes)
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings (note distractions, but do not stop working on the task)
  4. Take a 5 minute break (after four short breaks, take a longer one: 15 – 30 minutes)

The main goal of this technique is to eliminate every internal and external interruption. If something is distracting you during the pomodoro, you should write it down and postpone it. You can review all the distractions later (e.g. during the break) and decide what to do with them.

The Pomodoro technique is becoming very popular these days. Many software developers use it to boost their productivity. As I wrote before, Francesco Cirillo used a mechanical kitchen timer. Now we have plenty of applications which help in counting the time of pomodoros. But this is a subject for another blog post.

Ok… So does the Pomodoro technique work?

Personally I like this technique and find it very effective. I think that this technique fits software development projects perfectly. We actually use Scrum/Agile so splitting our work into small chunks is natural for most of us. And the Pomodoro technique can help us in dealing with all the tasks we are assigned to.

What are the main benefits of using Pomodoro? Here’s what I think:

  • it helps to focus on a single task
  • avoiding distractions – it’s easy to focus on your job for 25 minutes when you know that you will have 5 minutes for Facebook after 😉
  • better time management – every incoming task is written down so you can plan it for later
  • it helps to avoid overstrain – you can’t forget about taking breaks
  • it is very simple – the rules are clean and easy to follow

These were the pros but what are the cons of the Pomodoro technique?

  • it doesn’t fit every type of work – I can’t imagine using it, for example, in tech support
  • paradoxically, sometimes taking a break every 25 minutes may be a distraction, especially in “conceptual” work 😉
  • requires discipline at the start


As you can see, the Pomodoro technique is very simple and easy to use. Does it work? For me yes, and I think it would in all software development projects. Actually I think it would work in all continuous work. What do you think? Do you use it?

If you would like to know more about the Pomodoro technique, it has a dedicated website: I think it is the best place to start.