Habitually Focused – The Pomodoro Technique

The human brain is a wondrous thing, capable of amazing feats of creativity and logic.  The complexities can be both boon and bane, the latter when distractions are present.  Last week, at the Ignite Phoenix event, I learned about a simple technique that can help when focus is needed.  It’s called Pomodoro, named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that was first used by technique creator Francesco Cirillo.  The technique revolves around 5 simple steps:

  1. decide on the task to be done (writing it down helps to confirm the focus)
  2. set the timer for 25 minutes (over time this act will train the brain that it’s time to focus)
  3. work on the task (and only the task) for 25 minutes, until the timer rings and mark an x next to the task
  4. take a 5 minute break (reward the brain for staying focused)
  5. repeat (and after completing 4, take a longer break like 15-20 minutes)

The individual 30 minute units are called “pomodoros” and the x marks show a measure of progress that is also a form of reward for accomplishment.  The timer sound reinforces the “no distractions” rule and also provides a bit of white noise.

I can certainly see the applications for this in my writing regimen, where anything that reinforces focusing habits is firmly in the boon column.

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About Tim Giron

There are some who call him... Tim.


  1. Glad you liked my Ignite preso on the Pomodoro Technique, Tim!

    This system has worked for me when I need a “concentration boost” to overcome procrastination. Getting started on big projects with little bites really helps.

    I use the free Pomodoro Desktop app for Mac. Download it here http://pomodoro.ugolandini.com

    .-= Greg Head´s last blog ..The Pomodoro Technique – Ignite Phoenix =-.

  2. I just found your post and thought it was funny you were writing about using the PT for writing, because I dedicated half of my Pomodoro Technique blog post on convincing readers that they could use it for that purpose, by logging my time spent blogging with the PT. Let me know if you have any other lifehacks or personal development tips that you know about. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.


  1. […] give it a try.  Read Tim’s post https://www.writingiscake.com/2010/04/06/habitually-focused-the-pomodoro-technique/, check out the Ignite videohttp://www.youtube.com/user/IgnitePhoenix#p/u/16/7ckRBw5VfaA, check out […]