Does the Pomodoro Technique Work? How To Do It

Page Flows Team

May 16, 2024 | 8:00 am
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Daily planners, time management apps, and the three emailing apps you use might not cut it. Even so, you may struggle to focus with too much on your plate. The Pomodoro technique, a useful time management tool, exists for exactly this reason. Its uses in studying, working, and other areas have made this technique popular. But does the Pomodoro technique work?

In this tutorial, we’ll go over the best applications for this technique. 

Two hands hold up a red analog alarm clock against a blue background.

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

Time management techniques are a dime a dozen. There are so many it can be difficult to keep track. 

But what is the Pomodoro technique? This time-blocking approach involves six easy steps. The person doing it alternates between 25-minute work intervals and five-minute breaks. 

People use it for lots of reasons, from a study session to a work day.

Why Is It Called the Pomodoro Technique?

If you speak Italian, you might have noticed something. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, which sounds like an odd name for a study method.

So, why is it called the Pomodoro technique? Italian author Francesco Cirillo invented the approach in the late 1980s, christening it with its unique name.

He used a tomato to explain the technique visually, with its circular shape showing how the time blocks repeat. Thus, the Pomodoro method caught on.

How To Do the Pomodoro Study Method for UX Designers

Typically, students use the Pomodoro study method while revising their notes. But how can UX designers use Pomodoro? Follow these steps to make it part of your daily routine.

  1. Start with a single task. This could be research or wireframing and prototyping. The point is you need just one task to focus on. 
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Work without stopping until the timer goes off, keeping complete focus on your task. 
  3. When the timer stops, pause the task. Make a note that you have completed one Pomodoro cycle.
  4. Take a 5-minute break from the task.
  5. Set the timer back to 25 minutes, then work continuously for that time. 
  6. Repeat these steps until you have completed four Pomodoro cycles. After the fourth one, take a longer break of between fifteen and thirty minutes.

That’s all there is to it! The idea is to free up your brain’s capacity through breaks. That way, you can actually focus during work periods. Before we go into why it works, here are some FAQs.

Wooden Scrabble tiles spelling out the word 'FOCUS.'

Troubleshooting the Pomodoro Technique: FAQs

You shouldn’t make too many changes to the Pomodoro technique. However, you can make some adjustments to make it work for you. These questions might help you understand what falls within the rules. 

Why Can’t I Take Longer Breaks?

Longer breaks can lead to lost focus between Pomodoro cycles. It might work for you if you can transition between work and breaks. Generally, though, you should only break for extended periods after four cycles.

Can I Extend the Task Time?

Ideally, you shouldn’t extend the task time, even if you feel focused. Studies show that the brain can only focus for 10 to 52-minute periods. So, it’s vital to take regular breaks. If not, you can make more mistakes or even produce work that’s below what you’re capable of.

So, although you feel focused, taking a short break will help you focus for even longer.

What Do I Do If There’s an Interruption?

Sadly, even your best-laid plans can go awry. Interruptions can get in the way while you’re focusing. Don’t panic; worrying too much will throw the rest of your day off course. 

Instead, take a minute to reset. When you come back to the activity, start with a single Pomodoro and take it one at a time.

What Do I Do on My Break?

You need to make efficient use of your breaks if you want the Pomodoro method to be effective. Don’t pick up your phone; go straight to your socials. You might lose track of time and waste your hours away. 

Instead, ditch your phone. Use your breaks to stand up, stretch your legs, and get five minutes away from your screen. In your longer breaks, you can do other activities. Get some fresh air, use the restroom, grab a snack, or play with your cat. That way, you can incorporate some movement into your day. Plus, you’ll stay on task without totally breaking your productive streak.

An open notebook with detailed notes on the Pomodoro technique.

Why Does the Pomodoro Technique Work?

The Pomodoro method is deceptively simple. It’s just focusing and taking breaks in repetitive cycles. How does this actually work? Here’s why.

It Makes It Easy To Start

Procrastinating can affect the best of us, and it’s not just being lazy. Instead, you might procrastinate because you feel stressed. Time management tricks like Pomodoro give you a solid foundation to sit down and get to work. 

Often, starting is the hardest part. Since you know you have a break coming up soon, pomodoro can make it easier to start with something small. That way, you can break your project up into more manageable tasks. After all, you know you only have to focus for a short period of time. Then, your brain gets a break.

Essentially, you can take your project one Pomodoro at a time, meaning you have no reason to feel overwhelmed.

Eliminates Distractions

We live in a world where you’re likely to find interruptions around every corner. You’ve probably experienced a time when you have been drawing a wireframe only to receive a sudden stream of emails. Suddenly, you’re off-task, replying to coworkers’ emails rather than completing your designs.

In the moment, it’s easy to rationalize these distractions as urgent or necessary. But you have to ignore them to remain productive. This technique forces you to focus for just 25 minutes at a time. Trust us, almost every email can wait for at least 25 minutes.

What’s the Best Pomodoro Technique Timer?

There are now plenty of tools to help you practice this helpful technique. In theory, you can use a standard kitchen timer or the one that comes on your phone. However, it can be quite fun to use a tomato-shaped timer online that automatically tracks your cycles.

Not only can you learn a lot from the UX of these tools, but they’re also super helpful for working. Here are our top Pomodoro technique timer recommendations.

Pomodor

Pomodor is a super simple app for using this technique. It’s not much more advanced than your phone’s stopwatch. However, you might find yourself becoming distracted by apps every time you go to use your phone. In that case, this is a solution.

Its minimalist design is perfect for minimizing distractions. You can customize the interface with light or dark mode, too. All you need to do is hit Play and start cycling through Pomodoro sessions. Plus, the countdown timer will show in the URL title bar, so you know exactly how much time is left.

Pomodor offers other customization options, including the chance to change the time periods. You can alter the length of time for work and breaks. Simply head to settings in the sidebar to change it to your preferences. 

Notably, Pomodor is web-based, so you don’t need to download anything to use it. As a result, it’s ideal if you’re just experimenting and want to try the technique out. Plus, it’s completely free, which is always a bonus! You can donate to the site designer to show your appreciation and support for another UX creator.

Marinara

Marinara, with its name inspired by the tomato-based sauce, is an effective timer for group settings. The idea is that everybody in the team spends 25 minutes focusing, five minutes discussing, and so on. As a result, it’s useful for UX design teams.

There are different settings:

  • Pomodoro: A classic timer with 15-minute long breaks.
  • Custom: Customizable time periods
  • Kitchen: A time boxing timer where you can set and forget.

You don’t need an account to share timers with your team. Instead, just send the custom URL around your team so you can all share the same timer. You can even customize the link text and create an administrator link for other people to reset the timer. It’s completely free despite these awesome features.

The main drawback is the dated interface. The developers (three, five, two) are working on a new version. But, for now, it’s not the most visually appealing app.

Pomofocus.io

Pomofocus.io is a simple web-based timer that’s easy to use. It follows the typical pattern, with four 25-minute working periods and a five-minute break. The fourth break is 15 minutes long. However, in the settings, you can adjust the timer to whatever you feel like. This includes custom settings for the work periods, breaks, and even the number of cycles.

There are actually many customization options, including changing the color settings. You can change the alarm sounds, switch to automatic mode, and more. Additionally, you can set tasks to keep track of your pomodoros over time. This is useful if you need both a time-tracking and a time-management tool.

Although the majority of these features are free, you can get more by upgrading to a paid plan. Premium features include integration with your task management apps like Todoist, all for just $1.99 a month.

A shot from above of a person sitting in an armchair using a laptop. The chair is in the middle of a large clock.

Want Better UX? Try Page Flows!

So, does the Pomodoro technique work? In short, yes! Plenty of people, including many UX designers, find this technique useful for boosting productivity. You can use a Pomodoro timer or a simple stopwatch. Either way, try this technique out to see how it works for you.

And while you’re on the subject of improving your UX, check out Page Flows. Our library is a helpful resource for finding UX design ideas, allowing you to learn from proven products. Get started today to access our growing library of user flow recordings and finally stay up-to-date with current design trends.

Author

  • Page Flows Team

    The Page Flows Team is a collective of passionate UX design professionals dedicated to delivering insightful content on user experience and design principles. With diverse backgrounds and expertise, our contributing writers bring you the latest trends, tips, and research in the UX field. Each article is crafted with a focus on empathy, innovation, and a commitment to enhancing user interactions. Outside of writing, our team members draw inspiration from various pursuits such as outdoor activities, art, and continuous learning, fueling their creativity and drive to push the boundaries of UX design. The Page Flows Team is committed to providing valuable resources and engaging content to help you stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of user experience.

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