The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System That Has Transformed How We Work


Title: The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System That Has Transformed How We Work
Authors: Francesco Cirillo
Edition: 1
Finished Date: 2018-0
Rating: 5
Language: English
Genres: Self-Help, Productivity
Level: Entry
Publishers: Currency
Publication Date: 2006-10-16
Format: ePub, Pdf
Pages: 46
Download: ePub Pdf

The passage of time is no longer perceived as negative, but positive. Every Pomodoro represents the opportunity to improve, or in crisis situations, to rapidly reorganize. The more time passes, the better chance you have to improve your process. The more time passes, the more easily activities can be estimated and scheduled. The more time passes, the more the feeling of anxiety is assuaged, and in its place come enhanced consciousness, sharper focus on the here and now, and a clearer mind in deciding your next move. The result is higher productivity.


  • late ‘80s
  • defined in 1992 by the author
  • situation

    • the high number of distractions and interruptions
    • the low level of concentration and motivation

1. The context

  • Becoming: an abstract, dimensional aspect of time. represent time on axis, spatial dimensions. concept: duration, being late
  • the succession of events

1.1 goals of the Pomodoro technique

aim: to provide a simple tool/process for improving productivity (your own and that of your team) which is able to do the following

  • alleviate anxiety linked to becoming
  • enhance focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions
  • increase awareness of your decision
  • boost motivation and keep it constant
  • bolster the determination to achieve your goals
  • define the estimation process, both in qualitative and quantitative terms
  • improve your work or study process
  • strengthen your determination to keep on applying yourself in the face of complex situations

需要完成GTD大于1小时的时间 能有规律地休息.我很容易burnout

1.2 three basic assumptions

3 basic assumptions

  • a different way of seeing time

    • not focus focused on the concept of becoming
    • alleviates anxiety and in doing so leads to enhanced personal effectiveness
  • better use of the mind

    • enable us to achieve greater clarity of thought, hight consciousness, and sharper focus, all the while facilitating learning
  • ease-to-use

the basis

  • time-boxing: the cognitive techniques described by Buzan

    • how the mind works
  • the dynamics of play: by Gadamer
  • structuring objectives and activities incrementally: by Gilb

2 Materials and methods

5 stages

basic iteration: 1 day. can be more frequent

What When Why
Planning at the start of the day to decide on the day’s activities
Tracking throughout the day to gather raw data on the effort expended and other metrics of interest
Recording at the end of the day to compile an archive of daily observations
Processing at the end of the day to transform raw data into information
Visualizing at the end of the day to present the information in a format that facilitates understanding and clarifies paths to improvement


  • a Pomodoro: a kitchen timer

    • the time remaining should always be visible
  • a To Do Today Sheet, filled in at the start of each day

    • a heading with place, date, and author
    • a list of the things to do during the day, in order of priority
    • a section labelled Unplanned & Urgent Activities where any unexpected tasks that have to be dealt with should be listed as they come up. potentially modify the day’s plan
  • an activity Inventory Sheet

    • a heading with the name of the author
    • a number of lines where various activities are noted down as they come up.

      At the end of the day, the ones that have ben completed are checked off

  • a Records sheet

    • the set of raw data needed to produce pertinent reports and graphics
    • contain different sets of boxes, depending on the objectives
    • include

      • the date
      • description
      • the number of Pomodoros worth of effort needed to accomplish a task
    • updated at least once a day, usually at the end of day

    • stage: Recording, Processing, Visualizing

2.1 objective 1: find out how much effort an activity requires

traditional Pomodoro: 30 min

  • 25 min work
  • 5 min break

plan at the beginning of each day

  1. choose the tasks from the Activity Inventory Sheet
  2. prioritize them
  3. write them down in the To Do Today Sheet

2.1.1 start the first Pomodoro

  1. set the Pomodoro for 25 minutes
  2. start the first activity on the To Do Today Sheet

    require: clearly see how much time is left

    A Pomodoro

    • cannot be interrupted
    • mark 25 minutes of pure work
    • cannot be split up: no have a Pomodoro
    • if interrupted, the Pomodoro is considered void
  3. When Pomodoro rings, mark an X next to the activity

    • not allowed to keep on working “just for a few more minutes”
  4. take a break for 3-5 minutes

    • no any significant mental effort

      • not start talking about work-related issues with a colleague
      • not write important emails or make phone calls

        doing these kind of thins would block the constructive mental integration that you need in order to feel alert and ready for the start of the next Pomodoro. include these activities in your Activity Inventory, and earmark specific Pomodoros to do them.

    • not think about what have been done during the last Pomodoros.

  5. Once the break is over, set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes and continue the activity at hand

2.1.2 every four Pomodoros

every 4 Pomodoros, longer break: 15 min to 30 min

  • tidy up desk
  • listen to voice mail
  • check incoming emails
  • rest
  • breathing exercises
  • take a quick walk
  • not think about what was done during the last Pomodoros


  • not do anything complex
  • otherwise, your mind won’t be able to reorganize and integrate what have been learned
  • => not be able to give the next Pomodoro best effort

2.1.3 complete an activity

cross it out on the To Do Today Sheet

special cases

  • If finish a task in one Pomodoro, the following rule applies:

    • over-learning: use remaining portion of the Pomodoro to review or repeat what have been done, make small improvements, write down what have been learned until the Pomodoro rings
    • if finish an activity in the first 5 min of the Pomodoro, not be included in the Pomodoro count
  • move on to the next one on To Do Today if the current activity is completed

2.1.4 recording

at the end of every day

  • create (or option)

    • a hard-copy archive
    • electronic spreadsheet
    • a database
  • delete the completed activities from the Activity Inventory Sheet

Tracking and recording on the sheet depends on what you want to observe and the kind of reports that you want to generate

  • the number of Pomodoros completed per task: effort to accomplish each activity

    • the date
    • start time (not essential)
    • type of activity 柳比歇夫的方法中也有把事情分类
    • description of the activity
    • the actual number of Pomodoros (essential)
    • a short note on the results achieved
    • [improvement]
    • problems that may have come up

2.1.5 Improvement

  • self-observation
  • decision-making aimed at process improvement

    • how many Pomodoros a week spent on work activities or explorative activities
    • how many Pomodoros on average day of the week
    • ascertain if the stages in the process are all effective
    • if one could be eliminated while still achieving the same results

the activity of recording and later looking for ways to improve should not take more than one Pomodoro.

没有讲到processing和visualizing stage

2.2 objective 2: cut down on interruptions

2 kinds of interruptions

  • internal
  • external

2.2.1 internal interruptions: we interrupt ourselves

  • stand up and get something to eat or drink
  • make a call that suddenly seems terribly urgent
  • look up something on the internet (maybe related or unrelated to the task at hand)
  • check email
  • rethink how to prioritize this particular activity

    generally disguise our fear of not being able to finish what we’re working on the way we want and when we want.

work on 2 fronts simultaneously to prevent the internal interruptions

  1. Make these interruptions clearly visible

    • ' on the To Do Today Sheet

      1. Write down the new activity on the To Do Today Sheet under Unplanned & Urgent if you think it’s imminent and can’t be put off.
      2. Write it down in the Activity Inventory 写在omnifocus的inbox里

      3. marking it with a “U” (unplanned)

      4. add a deadline if need be.

  2. Intensify your determination to finish the current Pomodoro

    after mark ', continue working on the given task till the Pomodoror rings

    Rule: Once a Pomodoro Begins, It has to Ring.

The aim:

  • accept the fact that needs do emerge
  • they shouldn’t be neglected
  • Look at them objectively and if possible reschedule them for another time.

2.2.2 scenario

Is this really urgent? Do I have to do it today? No, I can put it off. Maybe an hour or two. Maybe even until tomorrow!

as little time as possible should be spent dealing with interruptions, a few seconds at most.

Otherwise the Pomodoro has to be considered interrupted, or void.

Finally the Pomodoro rings. Mark records it with an “X” and takes a quick break

several items marked urgent or absolute priority will be handled in different ways

  • will be moved to the Activity Inventory (do it later)
  • will be done during longer breaks
  • will be deleted

It’s a different mind that reads over those items at the end of a Pomodoro, or a set of four, or at the end of the day, and it’s sometimes surprising.

Truly urgent tasks are always highlighted on the To Do Today Sheet. The aim of the Pomodoro Technique: to ensure that the current Pomodoro isn’t interrupted by these activities.

  • can be done during the next Pomodoro, in place of other activities
  • re-scheduled sometime during the day, in place of other activities
  • can be moved from Pomodoro to Pomodoro if possible till the end of the day: helps us gradually learn to recognize what’s really urgent.
  • If and when unplanned urgent activities are done during the day

    • the relative Pomodoros are marked down in the proper space
  • If you have to interrupt a Pomodoro, either because you give in to temptation or something really urgent comes up没有内因而停止工作,只有外因打扰而停止工作

    1. void the current Pomodoro, even if it’s about to ring

      Rule: A Pomodoro Is Indivisible

    2. mark down '
    3. mark the unfinished Pomodoro - which didn’t actually ring - with an X
    4. take a 5-minute break
    5. start with a new Pomodoro.

The first objective to achieve in cutting down on interruptions is to be aware of the number and type of internal interruptions (urgent or not urgent). Observe them, accept them, and schedule them or delete them, as the case may be.

2.2.3 external interruptions - interrupted by others

  • The main difference between internal and external interruptions

    • interact with other people: we need to communicate
  • The mechanism for dealing with external interruptions is the same as that for internal ones

    • invert the dependency on interruptions, and make the interruptions depend on us.


  • incoming phone

    • taken by the answering machine and messages listened to later
  • emails

    • deactivating acoustic signals for incoming messages
  • If a colleague or study partner comes over, you can politely say you’re busy and can’t be interrupted

    • tell the person that you’d rather call them back in 25 minutes, or in a few hours, or tomorrow, depending on how urgent and important the matter is.

Speaking from experience, true emergencies that need to be dealt with instantly are rare in real life. A 25-minute or 2-hour delay (four Pomodoros) is almost always possible for activities that are commonly considered urgent.

This delay isn’t usually detrimental to the person who wants to communicate with you, but gives you an enormous advantage in terms of making your mind work effectively, finishing activities the way you want to and rescheduling urgent tasks.

strategies for Protect the Pomodoro: control external interruptions by simply rescheduling them in a later Pomodoro the same day or another day according to the degree of urgency

  • Inform: inform effectively
  • Negotiate: negotiate quickly to reschedule the interruption
  • Call back: call back the person who interrupted you as agreed

The dependency inversion for interruptions lies in this mechanism: We’re no longer dependent on interruptions, interruptions depend on us (i.e. the Pomodoros we allocate for calling back).

work on two fronts simultaneously

  1. Make these interruptions clearly visible -
  2. apply the Inform, Negotiate, and Call Strategy

  3. do one of the following

    1. Write down the new activity on the To Do Today Sheet under Unplanned & Urgent if it has to be done today, adding the promised deadline in brackets in the left-hand margin.
    2. Write it down in the Activity Inventory, marking it with a “U” (unplanned); add a deadline in brackets if need be.
  4. Intensify your determination to finish the current Pomodoro. Once you’ve marked down the dash, continue working on the given task till the Pomodoro rings.

If a Pomodoro absolutely has to be interrupted

  1. void the current Pomodoro, even if it’s about to ring. (Rule: A Pomodoro is Indivisible.)
  2. put a dash where you record Pomodoros to keep track of interrupted Pomodoros
  3. record the description and the deadline for the activity in the Unplanned & Urgent section
  4. start the first Pomodoro for the urgent activity.

2.2.4 Systematic Interruptions

systematically deal with internal and external interruptions: organizational activities emerge (emails, phone calls, meetings, etc.)

The most natural and most common decision is to set aside one Pomodoro a day (or more if need be) to take care of urgent interruptions.


  • To successfully delay these Pomodoros as far as possible, downgrading the degree of apparent urgency and incrementing the extent to which these activities can be controlled and scheduled 减少入水量
  • To gradually cut down on the number of Pomodoros used for organizing the interruptions that come up throughout the day 增加排水量

2.2.5 Recording: Qualitative Estimation Errors in Planning

planning phase

Look at the activities recorded daily and marked with a “U” in the Activity Inventory, and the ones marked Unplanned & Urgent on the To Do Today Sheet.

The greater the number of unplanned activities involved, the greater the qualitative error in your initial estimate

2.3 objective 3: estimate the effort for activities

Once you’ve begun to master the technique and you’ve reached the first two objectives, you can start working on quantitative estimates.

The long-term objective: to successfully predict the effort that an activity requires.

At the start of each day

  1. estimate how many Pomodoros each activity in the Inventory will take

    • Revise previous estimates, if need be.
  2. Record the estimated number of Pomodoros on the relative line

    The Pomodoro estimate actually represents the number of Pomodoros needed for a person to accomplish an activity

    this is a measure of effort

    • Estimates must always be based on complete Pomodoros
    • If an estimate is greater than 5-7 Pomodoros, this means that the activity in question is too complex

      • It’s better to break it down into several activities; estimate these activities separately, and write them down on several lines in the Activity Inventory.

        The rule is: If It Takes More Than 5-7 Pomodoros, Break It Down.

    • If the estimate is less than one Pomodoro, similar activities should be combined till they add up to one Pomodoro of effort

      The rule is: If It Takes Less Than One Pomodoro, Add It Up

    • there are two options for activities estimated to last less than one Pomodoro.

      1. Find and combine similar activities from the Activity Inventory until they add up to one Pomodoro of effort

        if the activities in question are very similar or complementary

        leave the other tasks without an estimate and combine them later

      2. Leave the activity without an estimate and indicate that you’ll combine it with another activity when you fill in the To Do Today Sheet.

2.3.2 possible scenarios

2.3.3 recording estimates

quantitative estimates

new goals

  • To measure the accuracy of estimates, analyzing the gap between estimated effort and actual effort (estimation error) for every activity
  • To show where more estimates were needed (second or third estimates)

Record Sheet

Remember: always keep recording activity as simple as possible.

The first objective of improving quantitative estimates lies in eliminating the third estimate, and keeping the overall margin of error small.

The next objective is to eliminate the second estimate, again keeping the overall margin of error small.

The final objective is to reduce the margin of error in the first estimate.

2.3.4 managing exploration

Not every activity can be estimated

a new project or a study activity

  • look for new sources
  • get an idea of the structure of the texts you have to study or consult
  • define your objectives more clearly.

apply the concept of time-boxing:

  1. Decide on a number of Pomodoros for completing your exploration
  2. do Pomodoro
  3. When these Pomodoros are finished

    (either or)

    • set up your real work plan
    • start in on a specific activity
    • decide if you want to keep on exploring and what direction you want to take.

2.4 object 4: make the Pomodoro more effective

2.4.1 the structure of the Pomodoro

  • the first 3-5 minutes of each Pomodoro

    1. briefly repeat what you have learned since the beginning of the activity (not just the last Pomodoro)
    2. memory
  • the last 3-5 minutes

    quickly review what you have done

    If you want to check the quality and methods of your work to pinpoint potential improvement, you should plan one or two Pomodoros to do so. (Quicker observations are made daily during the recording Pomodoro.)

If you have a hard time doing so, this may be a sign that you haven’t yet mastered the basic technique.

2.4.2 the structure of the Pomodoro set

the four-Pomodoro set

  • 1st Pomodoro or part of 1st Pomodoro

    repeat what you have done so far

  • Likewise, all or part of the last Pomodoro in the set can be used to review what you’ve accomplished

Repetition and revision activities are more effective if you do them out loud or by talking with a partner or member of your team. Systematic repetition and revision stimulates the effects of over-learning, facilitating the acquisition of new information.

2.5 objective 5: set up a timetable

  • A timetable sets a limit
  • delineates the separation between work time and free time
  • measures the results of the day

    Once we’ve written up the To Do Today Sheet, our goal is to carry out the activities listed on it with the highest possible quality within the set timeframe. If time runs out and these activities aren’t done, we try to understand what went wrong. In the meantime, we already have an invaluable piece of information: how many Pomodoros we managed to work that day.

figuring out how much time is wasted isn’t important; how many Pomodoros we’ve accomplished is

the risk of the vicious circle

the timetable protracts => fatigue increases => productivity drops => the timetable protracts

  1. an effective timetable has to be respected. Respecting a timetable means developing immunity to the Five More Minutes Syndrome. When your work time is up, just like when the Pomodoro rings, all activity stops.
  2. an effective timetable has to allow for the free time that’s needed to recoup.

important deadline: momentarily increase productivity

shouldn’t work overtime for more than five days. Establish an ad hoc timetable for this period, and set aside a recovery period to deal with the drop in productivity that will inevitably follow.

2.5.1 the best case scenario

  • The operational Pomodoros never is not the number of work/study hours. With eight hours of work/study, two Pomodoros are earmarked for organizational activities (one hour) and twelve (six hours) for operational activities.

2.5.2 A Scenario With Interruptions

2.5.3 Optimizing Your Timetable

organize them to make the day more effective

Optimizing your work schedule is the result of a continual process of observation and feedback. The objective is to reinforce the concept of a regular succession of activity as much as possible.

people who have an entire day to study

  • initial timetable: might be 8:30-12:30, 1:30-5:30

    short form: [4],[3]:[4],[3]

    • in the morning
      • 1 set of 4 Pomodoros
      • 1 set of 3 Pomodoros
    • in the afternoon

      • 1 set of 4 Pomodoros
      • 1 set of 3 Pomodoros

Pomodoros in each set



  • planning the day: 1st Pomodoro in the first set of the day
  • study new topics: the following 3 Pomodoros, and next 2 Pomodoros from the 2nd set
  • check and answer emails, listen to voice mail, call classmates: the last Pomodoro in the second group
  • look over what have been done in the morning: 1st Pomodoro of the 3rd st
  • studying: the next 3 Pomodoros
  • revise what have been learned today and in last few days: the first 2 Pomodoro of the 4th set
  • track and analyze data: the last Pomodoro of the day

Assumption for the above example:

  • more productive in the morning than afternoon after lunch


The above is initial timetable

in order to gather information on

  • how you work/how you are working
  • track metrics of Pomodoros completed and other indicators every day, students can learn to pinpoint which set of Pomodoros is most productive for studying, revising, or being creative

organize timetable

  • keys: make conscious decisions on how to set it up

    • can use longer or shorter sets lasting, e.g., 3 or 5 Pomodoros
    • at the end of set 15-30 minute break
  • features of a effective timetable

    • it should be destined to change over time
    • it can be made of sets of differing numbers of Pomodoros

2.6 other possible objectives

if we want to improve, the reporting objectives will change over time. It wouldn’t be useful to track and record every possible metric

keep some key criteria in mind that serve to preserve the adaptive capability of the Technique when changing the reporting tables (in order of importance)

  1. always remember:

    using technology means

    • an increase in complexity because of relative learning curve
    • less flexibility as compared to paper, pencil, and eraser

      完全同意.现在尝试用的pomodoro app,没有varing set的功能,没有varing time的功能.
  2. keep tracking at the lowest possible level of complexity

    choose simple tools for this activity: paper, pencil and eraser

  3. keep recording simple

    try paper, pencil, eraser

    then think about database or spread sheet

  1. if Processing and Visualizing become difficult, complex, and repetitive,

    1. ask whether all the metrics are really necessary
    2. If yes, consider using spreadsheets, a database, or an ad hoc software program

      a simple excel sheet

    • reclassify activities by type
    • filter activities by word
    • group and applying calculations to selected activities
  2. Imagination is the most powerful tool for preventing complexity from growing.


In any case, choosing which metrics to track and record has to be subordinate to the choice of improvement objectives.


  • a number of objectives to achieve simultaneously. How to distinguish between them?

    • Method 1: change the description, so as to highlight the objective

      • Method 2: in the Activity Inventory, on the To Do Today Sheet, and on the Records Sheet

        either method

        • a new box labeled Objectives
        • an abbreviation
        • code that stands for it
  • calculate how long it takes to reach certain objectives or perform given activities

    • measure the time from the date of completion back to the date when writing in assigned the activity

      • To Do Today Sheet: the completion date

      • the Activity Inventory: track the date you write it

      • the To Do Today Sheet: track the date you write it

      • Records Sheet: track Pomodoros of effort over several days for the same activity


successfully applied in various types of activities

  • organize work
  • study
  • write books
  • draft technical reports
  • prepare for presentations
  • manage projects
  • manage meetings
  • manage events
  • manage conferences
  • train courses

The following is the observations from the experience of people and teams

3.1 learning time

  • apply the Pomodoro techniques: no time
  • master: 7-20 days of constant application

3.2 the length of the Pomodoro

2 forces have to be kept in balance to maximize effectiveness

  • The Pomodoro has to represent an effective atomic measure of work. In other words, the Pomodoro has to measure equal units of continuous effort

    As a unit of measure, much smaller time intervals such as 10 minutes might not be interrupted, but they don’t allow us to achieve appreciable results, and tracking becomes much too intrusive. So as far as this first force, half an hour seems to be ideal.

  • The Pomodoro has to encourage consciousness, concentration, and clear-minded thinking.

    It’s been proven that 20-to 45-minute time intervals can maximize our attention and mental activity, if followed by a short break (15)

    The author considers the ideal Pomodoro as 20 – 35 minutes long, 40 minutes at the most. Experience shows: works best with 30-minute time periods.

3.3 Varying the Length of Breaks

the length of breaks depends on: how tired you feel

  • Breaks at the end of a set

    • should last from 15 to 30 minutes

    • an intense rhythm work: need a 25-minute break between every set

    • if especially tired: lengthen breaks between sets every so often.


    • breaks that consistently exceed 30 minutes

      • risk interrupting the rhythm between sets of Pomodoros
      • an alarm signaling the need for rest and free time
    • a serious mistake to take shorter breaks between sets when under pressure

      mind needs time to integrate and get ready to receive new information

  • breaks between Pomodoros

    • no less than 3-5 minutes
    • when especially tired, stop working for up to 10 minutes
    • no more than 5-10 minutes

      The best way to manage your resources is to work strategically, first increasing the breaks between sets, and then extending the breaks between Pomodoros, if need be.

3.4 a different perception of time

in the first few days: sharper focus and concentration that comes from a different perception of time

  1. the 1st 25-min Pomodoros : pass more slowly
  2. after a few days: feel the mid-way point of the 25 min
  3. the end of the first week: feel when 5 min are left. feel fatigue during final minutes

3.5 sounds of the Pomodoro

2 sounds

  • tick
  • ring (after 25 min)

2 different people

  • Pomodoros users
  • people sharing the same work space with Pomodoro users

3.5.1 people who use the Pomodoro

at the beginning: annoying

after a few days

  • the ticking becomes a calming sound

    “It’s ticking and I’m working and everything’s fine”

after a while

  • don’t even hear the ring because their level of concentration is so high => a real problem in some cases

3.5.2 people sharing the same work space with Pomodoro users

  • watches that count down 25 minutes and then flash or beep softly
  • cell phones with software applications that vibrate or make the display flash
  • kitchen timers with muted rings
  • Pomodoro computer software

3.6 Shapes of the Pomodoro

no necessary to be shaped like a tomato

3.7 ring anxiety

the first few Pomodoros, some anxiety from the feeling of being controlled by the Pomodoro

two cases

  • among people who are not used to self-discipline
  • among people who are very oriented toward achieving results

    If every tick seems like an invitation to work quickly, if every tock repeats the question, “Am I going fast enough?” these are signs of full immersion in what we might call the Becoming Syndrome.

The first thing to learn with the Pomodoro Technique is that seeming fast isn’t important, reaching the point of actually being fast is

If it takes four Pomodoros to draft a simple two-page review, it’s not important that you expected to finish in two Pomodoros, or that you want to show everyone that you can finish in two Pomodoros. What’s important is to find out how to go from four to two.

  1. the initial challenge:

    how to analyze how you work on the basis of test measurements collected every 30 minutes

    and not having expectations as to the result

    simply work, track, analyze, change in order to improve

  2. to estimate

    even challenge yourself to succeed in completing a given activity within the estimated time

    never take shortcuts

    frustrating when they get closer and closer to the last estimated Pomodoro box. But you have to be brave and keep on working, staying calm and concentrated, to be successful.

With the Pomodoro Technique, the number of Pomodoros you finish doesn’t matter so much as the pathway to consistently achieving more Pomodoros

start using technique or not using for some time: In this case, it takes patience and a bit of training to consistently reach 10-12 Pomodoros a day.

3.8 constant internal interruptions

set the Pomodoro for 25 minutes and force yourself, Pomodoro after Pomodoro, to increase (and more importantly never reduce) the time you work non-stop.

The final objective is to get to the 25-minute mark having worked continuously, with no interruptions.

3.9 the next Pomodoro will go better

The feeling of having the time to do things and not using it well

Your mind starts wandering from the past to the future: “If I had done that research on Internet yesterday, and last week I’d sent that email…How will I deliver the report by next week?”

This provokes feelings of guilt and creates anxiety-filled situations.

keep your focus on

  • the current Pomodoro
  • once that’s done,
  • the next Pomodoro

the Pomodoro enables them to concentrate and achieve little things (activities that take 5-7 Pomodoros worth of effort, at the most), without having to worry about every thing.

这是David Allen说的concentration.他虽然在强调focus很重要,但是他的方法not sufficient,需要pomodoro来实现focus

3.10 mechanical Pomodoro or Pomodoro software

from experience, the most effective Pomodoro is always the kitchen timer

the requirements for a effective Pomodoro

  • actually wind it up

    determination to start working on the activity at hand

  • clearly show how much time is left

    a ticking sound as time passes

  • a sound to signal that time’s up

3.11 improving estimates

  • reduce the error between estimated Pomodoros and actual Pomodoros

    Experience shows that a positive sign of improvement in estimation is when the number of cases of underestimation is equal to the number of cases of overestimation.

    A strategy oriented toward systematic overestimation or underestimation does not lead to quantitative improvement.

If It Takes More Than 5-7 Pomodoros, Break It Down. Smaller activities are more understandable and easier to estimate, so the margin of error shrinks. Smaller activities (but not too small) enable us to recognize simpler solutions.

3.12 motivation and the Pomodoro

3 factors contribute to boosting personal motivation

  • Completing several activities a day that aren’t too simple or too complex (Rule: If it Takes More than 5-7 Pomodoros, Break It Down.), which serve to reach your objective
  • Directly influencing personal improvement on a day to day basis
  • be aware of how you work/ how you are working

3.13 and if everything goes completely wrong?


3.14 the Pomodoro has a limit

disadvantage: in order to reach goals effectively, you need to accept being helped by a little mechanical object


when not to use the Pomodoro

not for activities in free time

because: applying the Pomodoro would make these activities scheduled and goal-oriented => no longer free time


read a book for leisure


  • regulate complexity

    neither too complex nor too easy

    • 5-7 Pomodoro, break down

    • <1 Pomodoro, add it up


  • creator: Francesco Cirillo
  • time: late 1980s


  • Records sheet里对于internal和external的总结值得学习

    gtd vs promodoro

gtd: very good for routine

promodoro: good for having long period of free time and doing task


The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”,

suitable senaria

a unit of focused, uninterrupted time; measured by an egg timer

suited for tasks that require you to sit behind your computer (especially if you use a timer software)

If you have a physical timer, it’s also great for chores around the house.

  • Tasks that require a lot of focus (especially when you eat your frogs).
  • Things you are procrastinating on.
  • For times when you feel like procrastinating.

When you feel like procrastinating, do a 25/5 cycle.


  1. decide on the task to be done
  2. set the pomodoro timer to n minutes e.g. 25min
  3. work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
  4. take a short break (3-5 min)
  5. after 4 pomodori, take a longer break 15-30 min


  • planning
  • tracking
  • recording
  • processing
  • visualizing

plan stage

tasks are prioritized by recording them in a “To Do Today” list. This enables users to estimate the effort tasks require. As pomodori are completed, they are recorded, adding to a sense of accomplishment and providing raw data for subsequent self-observation and improvement.

  1. know how many promodori needed to finish the task
  2. prevent distraction
  3. spend time for review and recap


  • programmer

example from online 1

At the beginning of my work day, I write a collection of tasks that I think I achieve during the day onto a fresh piece of paper. (my todo list). I estimate how long I think each task will take in units of a pomodoros. Next to each task I put a number of boxes; one for each pomodoro unit. I make sure not to have more pomodoro units than I achieved yesterday; and I try to make sure that I’m estimating tasks based on how long similar tasks actually took me in the past.

Then I wind up my egg timer, place it visibly on my desk and begin the first task. The ritual of winding up the timer, placing it down and hearing it tick helps me to drop into the zone of full concentration – and let my team know that they shouldn’t interrupt me.

sheets needed

  • inventory: OmniFocus GTD sheet
  • today todo sheet
  • promodoro record sheet + event log sheet


  • do things that don’t require much focus
  • reflect on he things in the last promodori
  • set a sort of “micro goal” to do in the next pomodori

time interval

cognitive science research: we can effectively do intense work for up to 90 minutes

  • 90 minutes + 15 minutes break

## My consideration

### 1. planning

1. choose tasks from OmniFocus, and write them in sublime

meet following criteria

context: Mac/PC computer(, or reading books) time interval: longer than 1 hour

2. prioritize them
3. write them in the To Do Today Sheet


PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?


  1. split the tasks in even smaller tasks, until they became so small that they took only a few minutes.
  2. putting them together until i reached a complete task that fits into one or multiple Pomodoros.

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Now I am able to make a better estimation on how long a task will take.


PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: At first I did not know how to make tasks small enough to make them fit into Pomodoros.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: I started really with a low profile. I just started cutting and cutting and cutting a task into little (really little) pieces. At that moment I could exactly say how long a mini task would take. During the time the estimation become more accurate and I started putting mini tasks back together to become a real task . So at a certain time I started the day updating the activity sheet fitting the activities in Pomodoros. My working Pomodoro day never exceeds eight Pomodoros. Recording the estimates really helped with this. At first it was quite a shock to see that the tasks did not seem to fit into any Pomodoro:-).

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Estimations are more accurate and I actually get things done within the time I calculated!