Pomodoro TechniqueStaying focused is challenging even at the best of times. This is true whether you’re working on your own or you are part of a larger collaborative team. Perhaps you have already employed agile project management tools to keep everyone on the same page, but how do you ensure that everyone is getting the most out of their time at the office?

That’s where the Pomodoro Technique can come in.

What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

First developed by Francesco Cirillo nearly 30 years ago, the Pomodoro Technique is a strategy for time management that is meant to “improve mental agility.” It is still a trademarked term, but a variety of tools and systems have been developed based on its fundamental principles.

Intense work sessions are interrupted by short breaks, all of which need to be timed. Each work interval (called a pomodoro) is traditionally 25 minutes in length and the short breaks are traditionally 5 minutes in length. After completing four consecutive pomodori (the plural of pomodoro), you take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

By repeating this cycle, you maximize productivity and ensure that your mind stays sharp throughout the process. Working for too long of a stretch at a time can lead to mental fatigue, while work sessions that are too short don’t accomplish enough.

Desktop Timers

Pomodoro work sessions are 25 minutes

Pomodoro work sessions are 25 minutes

While the traditional way to keep track of time with the Pomodoro Technique involved using a kitchen timer, the far smarter way to approach this method is to use a digital timer instead. These browser-based utilities are a natural fit, given that so much of our work is done on a computer anyway.

  • KanbanFlow – We mentioned this tool as part of our roundup of Kanban project management tools. What’s great here is that a Pomodoro timer is integrated into the system, not only providing you with the 25-minute work intervals, but also attributing time worked to individual tasks.
  • TomatoTimer – Part of the strategy behind the Pomodoro Technique involves removing as many distractions as possible. This website keeps the timer as simple as possible with little more than just the numbers on the screen, plus the start, stop and reset buttons. The keyboard shortcuts are an added bonus, as are the Chrome-only desktop notifications.
  • Moosti – This free tool works in fundamentally the same way as TomatoTimer. The difference is that in addition to timing your focus sessions, short breaks and long breaks, you can also define the length of these sessions by moving the respective sliders over. The design is also responsive, so you can use it on a tablet or smartphone too.

Android Apps

Maintaining focus with the ClearFocus app

Maintaining focus with the ClearFocus app

Not all of your work will be conducted right on your PC and, even if it is, you may not want to sacrifice value screen real estate for a timer. That’s where mobile apps with Pomodoro timers can come in handy, like these for Google Android devices.

  • ClearFocus – In line with the Material Design of Android 5.0 Lollipop, ClearFocus features a minimalist, elegant design for its timer. It also includes basic statistics to track your completed work sessions.
  • Clockwork Tomato – One advantage to this app is the ability to auto-chain the timers together. There’s also a manual mode for “extended timers” and a handy home screen clock widget for ease of access.
  • Pomotodo – This Android app combines the Pomodoro Technique with the GTD (Getting Things Done) approach for maximum productivity. As its name implies, it also integrates as a focused to-do list.

iPhone Apps

Earn more tomatoes on iPhone

Earn more tomatoes on iPhone

Of course, Android isn’t the only place you’ll find tomato-themed timers. The Apple iPhone and iPad users in the audience may consider these apps.

  • Pomodoro Timer – The only paid app ($1.99) on this list, Pomodoro Timer does the time-tracking thing, but it also lets you set your target number of pomodoros each day, customize the pomodoro length, or even pause the current timer as appropriate.
  • Flat Tomato – Featuring a fun and colorful design, this app lets you customize your workflow and estimate the effort needed to complete your tasks and projects.
  • ORANGE Time Management – Who said you had to stick with tomatoes? The citrus-themed approach says it “gives much more freedom to solve your tasks in your own work flow.”

Image credit: little_yiye / Flickr