This Simple Trick Can Save You From Distractions

August 1, 2016, 12:00 AM UTC
Time is up
A tomato timer on a cool black reflective background.
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Pomodoro Primer

In the late 1990s Francesco Cirillo, an Italian software designer, introduced the world to the Pomodoro Technique, and decades since, every office has become a distraction-free sanctuary of quality work.

No, it didn’t happen quite like that, and today there are even more distractions out there. So with that in mind, we’d like to bring back the Pomodoro Technique. It could be what finally saves us from checking Facebook and scrolling through Instagram while we should be getting stuff done.

Cirillo named his technique after those red kitchen timers that look like tomatoes, specifically Pomodoro tomatoes. Each timer can be set for a max of 25 minutes, or a unit of time Cirillo coined “the Pomodoro”, which he believes is the optimal time to work on a task. Working in short bursts will help you concentrate and focus without anxiety, according to Cirillo.

For more on work productivity, watch this video:

You start by making a log of projects and activities that need doing, breaking down larger projects into chunks you can accomplish in 25 minutes. After each task is complete “X” it off and take a three-to-five minute break.

The first rule about Pomodoro Technique is: you talk to everyone about Pomodoro Technique. When your coworkers learn about your amazing new productivity plan, they’re more likely to stop interrupting you during your 25-minute Pomodoro intervals. Cirillo believes a Pomodoro must never be interrupted – no word on his ever working in an open office.

Although the Pomodoro Technique is simple and only requires a timer, there is some cool tech out there to help bring the method into the 21st century. The Marinara Timer website allows you to set custom timers. No installation required. Tomato Timer is even simpler, offering users just the 25-minute option and various keyword shortcuts to start, stop, and determine break time.

Install Simple Pomodoro, which was developed by Cirillo, and when you’re ready to start a task click the tomato icon on your browser and get started. A popup alerts you when 25 minutes is up. Strict Workflow goes a step further and blocks certain distracting websites. Both are available for Chrome.

The IOS app Focus Keeper is a timer that also tracks how long you’ve kept your focus in the past. For Android users, Timesheet offers a good alternative.