Steve Fenton

Pomodoro Technique in 25 minutes

Pomodoro ChartsHere are the notes from my presentation “Pomodoro Technique in 25 Minutes”, from 22nd March 2012, which was delivered within the time limit, including questions.

What Is Pomodoro?

  • Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s
  • A tool to manage time and more importantly to manage interruptions and keep focus

How Does It Work?

  • Choose a task – Pomodoro works best against a specific task
  • Set your timer (traditionally a Tomato kitchen timer – more on that later) for 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer rings
  • Record the Pomodoro against the task (you want to know how many Pomodoros you manage in a day, and how many it took to complete the task)
  • Take a 5 minute break, or a longer break if you’ve done 4 Pomodoros since your last longer break


  • If someone needs you when you are on a Pomodoro, ask them if they can wait until the end of the Pomodoro.
  • If they can, write down their name on a sheet of paper.
  • If they can’t abandon the Pomodoro – “Once a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring” – if you are going to break this rule, it had better be for a real good reason
  • When you get to the end of a Pomodoro, make sure you catch up with each of the people who needed you

Positive Pomodoro

  • It can only work if you are polite to people who interrupt.
  • People tend to become more aware of the concept, especially if you are happy to explain it to them. Often, they will change their behaviour to ask you if you can be interrupted or not.
  • You have to keep your promise of catching up with everyone after each Pomodoro.

Why It works

  • Interruptions are harmful to progress because of the cognitive context-switch and also because the sheer number of them sometimes. 25 minutes of uninterrupted work allows a surprising amount of progress.
  • Taking a break helps you stay in the flow, rather than in the zone. It gives you a chance to think about what you are trying to achieve while your keyboard cools down.
  • The fact you can see a timer counting down really motivates you to get your rage on.
  • You can measure how many Pomodoro’s you get done in a day and analyse why the number is a bit low.
  • You can estimate tasks in “Pomodoros”

When To Use It

  • Whenever you feel that progress is being stalled due to interruptions or lack of focus
  • It works great alongside pair-programming
  • Not all the time – you get a lot done, but using Pomodoro all the time can wear you out fast, so use it when appropriate


  • One a Pomodoro Begins, It Has To Ring
  • 25 mins, 5 minute break, 30 minute break every 4 Pomodoros.
  • A Pomodoro is indivisible – no half / quarter Pomodoros. Tasks should be grouped to make at least one, or broken down to take less than 7
  • Protect the Pomodoro
  • Pace should be maintainable
  • The next Pomodoro will go better

Useful Links

The Official Pomodoro Technique Website

The Official Pomodoro Technique Book

Tip On Recording Pomdoros

For most people, keeping things low tech works best for Pomodoro and it certainly helps to start that way before you dive into an app as it will help you to use the app better. I record all of my Pomodoros and interruptions on a sheet of paper and draw my own charts by hand to see how I’m getting on.

Pomodoro Charts

Written by Steve Fenton on