Freelance Writing, Starting a Freelance Writing Business, Uncategorized

The Pomodoro Technique and Me – Juicing the Tomato

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo to help people keep on task and to identify, handle, and learn from distractions. Cirillo called each work session a pomodoro (Spanish for tomato) because he used a tomato-shaped timer to time each work session.

The Pomodoro Technique in a nutshell:

  1. Task -Select a task and set a timer for a 25-minute work session (pomodoro). During the pomodoro, work completely on the task without stopping to attend to distractions. If a distraction comes up (email, phone calls, Skype message, etc.), write it down and take care of it during a break or use a task later in the day to deal with it.
  2. Break – When the timer goes off, make a checkmark on a piece of paper and take a five-minute break. Get up and move around. The idea is to prevent burnout and the feeling of continually rushing to get things done. Move your body and give your mind a break too.
  3. Task – After the break, start another pomodoro. Continue with the previous task or start something new.
  4. Break – After four pomodoros, take a longer break of 30 minutes or so. Make sure you get up and move your body. For example, after four sessions in the morning, take a lunch break or small walk.

The main ideas are to:

  • break your work into manageable chunks to motive you to start and avoid being overwhelmed.
  • make yourself take breaks to avoid burnout and bring down stress levels.
  • identify your distractions and learn how to manage them.

Using The Pomodoro Technique, you can go back and count the checkmarks to see how much time it took to do each task. This will really help in estimating how much time new tasks will take. You can also see where you are wasting time and becoming distracted.

Putting it to the Test – The Pomodoro Technique for One Day

Task – Write this blog post and get it online by the end of the workday.

I have to admit I started very late today (Yes it is because of the Oscars last night!).

Break – Five minutes.

Wow, that break seemed to come very quickly. I stretched out my back because my chair is killing me, went outside for some fresh air, kissed the dog, and then changed my chair. So far so good, there are no distractions.

Task – Continue to write this post.

Uh oh, the phone is ringing just as I started again. I write down “phone” in my distraction list and listen to the answering machine. Is secretly listening to make sure the call is unimportant cheating? At least I didn’t run to the phone. I am making progress already. I continue writing and Whoa – the timer again already.

Break – Five minutes.

Grabbed some water, went outside to check on the plants I watered this morning (looking a lot better!), stretched my back again, kissed the dog, and put a pillow on the new chair.

Task – Continue to write this post.

I can already tell this technique is good at getting me back to work after a break without checking email, FB, etc. This is where I can see my distractions are – especially after the Oscars.

Break – Five minutes.

Although I haven’t completed four pomodoros, I am stopping for lunch because I am hungry. The break took almost an hour because I sat down to eat lunch and then went for a short walk. This is pretty normal for me so I will have to make adjustments if I decide to stick with it. And yes, I kissed the dog.

Task – Continue to write this post.

I continue to write, edit, and revise. Damn, there is that timer again. I feel like I just sat down.

Break – Five minutes.

Stretching, water, bathroom … the usual.

Task – Finish the post and begin to edit.

This post is taking longer than I thought it would. The checkmarks are helping me keep track of the time. I am also starting to see I should write the complete post, and then edit and revise. I keep stopping to revise over and over again and it is wasting too much time.

Break – Five minutes.

Made coffee and cleaned a few dishes. I didn’t see the dog, so no kiss.

Task – Edit and complete the post.

Editing, revising, editing …. I think I am done!


I think this method will work really well for me with a few tweaks – or what I am going to call a little juicing!

  1. I find the 25-minute pomodoros too short and actually get quite irritated when the timer seems to interrupt me all the time. I think 45-minute pomodoros would work better for me.
  2. Same thing for the breaks, I find them too short. By the time I walk outside and then go to the bathroom, I have no time to grab a snack or drink. I think ten-minute breaks would work better for me.
  3. I love writing down each distraction and dealing with them later. I do tend to go down the rabbit hole of distraction when I let things that could probably wait intrude on my work time instead of handling them when it is a good time for me.

This technique will take some practice, but so far I really like it. A specific set time makes it easy to get back to work – not overwhelming at all. The breaks, which I would normally forget to take, are good for my sore back and for my brain. Most important, I am seeing trends in what is taking too much time and where I need to streamline. I think The Pomodoro technique is something that I could stick with … and I Love Tomatoes!


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