Use Tomatoes to Manage Your Time

In part two of my series on productivity, I bring you a time management method that is so simple you don’t even need a smartphone. All you need is a timer, some paper, and a pencil. Now that’s refreshing.

(Photo Credit: / Flickr)

In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo developed a way to manage his time better by using a basic tomato-shaped kitchen timer. He named it, The Pomodoro Technique. (In Italian, “pomodoro” means tomato.)

The Basics:

  • Set your timer for 25 minutes (a block of time called a pomodoro) and get to work on your task.
  • Do not let distractions interrupt your workflow during a pomodoro.
  • Take a short 3-5 minute break after each pomodoro.
  • Take a longer 15-30 minute break after every set of four pomodori.

The Pomodoro Technique is based on the idea that frequent breaks will increase productivity. The purpose is to help you to better utilize your time by training you to eliminate distractions and enhance your focus.

Going further: The Pomodoro Technique also strives to help you observe and track how often you are distracted (internally and externally) and estimate how much effort a task will take so that you can organize your time and work more efficiently. Check out for a video introduction, a cheat sheet, and a free digital copy of Cirillo’s book to learn more about the technique and becoming a Certified Pomodoro Master (yes, really!).

If you prefer your smartphone to an adorable tomato timer, you can download the free 30/30 app to help you execute The Pomodoro Technique. 30/30 is a timer app designed with elegance and simplicity.  


  • Forces you to take breaks. Stand up, stretch or walk, look away from the screen, and return to your work more energized.
  • Keeps you from burning out.
  • Brings awareness to your time spent working and being distracted.
  • Helps you learn to value and respect your time.


  • Can interrupt deep focus on a task.
  • Can feel too rigid.
  • Won’t always fit with the kind of work or amount of time you have.

Bottom Line: Give it a try! At first I resisted the end of a pomodoro because I wanted to keep up my workflow, but the timer forced me to stop. After a few pomodori, I felt I was working with more focus and welcomed each break because I knew I would return to work with more focus and clarity. I think The Pomodoro Technique will come in handy when breaking down larger tasks into smaller segments. All you need is a timer or the free 30/30 app and you’re on your way to increased productivity!


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Is The Pomodoro Technique useful or a waste of time? Tell us on Twitter or in the comments below.

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