The Pomodoro Technique: Internet Productivity 25-Minutes at a Time?

The Pomodoro TechniqueLately I’ve been experimenting with a productivity method called The Pomodoro Technique.

At first, I wasn’t sure if it would help.  But I’ve tested it for the last two weeks and I can honestly say it’s had an amazing impact on my personal time management.

So today we’re going to talk about The Pomodoro Method; specifically showing how this technique can help YOU get more accomplished on a daily basis.

Why You Need to Keep Track of your Time

Last week I asked a simple question:  How Many Hours Do You Spend on your Online Business?

I was amazed at how hard people work on their online business.  On the other hand, I was a little shocked that some didn’t keep track of their time.  They’ll work hour after hour; never knowing what they’re accomplishing.

When it comes to productivity, I often think of Peter Drucker’s quote: “What gets measured, gets managed.”  In other words, it’s important to track your time.  That’s the only way you’ll be able to get more done in a day.

The last few years I’ve used time blocking during my work week. Usually I’ll allocate a certain amount of time for a specific activity and then use a clock to track this effort.

This method has worked well.  However I’ve always felt that it could be improved.  Specifically I’ve always had trouble staying focused on each task.

Now I’ve found the perfect solution in The Pomodoro Technique.  So let’s talk about it…

What is The Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Method is a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 80’s.  It breaks down work periods into 25-minute intervals (called Pomodoros) with a five minute break between each.

The idea behind this technique is to increase productivity.  You improve mental agility (and efficiency) by intensely focusing on a task for a short period of time.  You then recharge your batteries by taking a quick break.

The Pomodoro Technique works in five basic steps:

  1. Decide on the task to be done
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings.  Record the “Pomodoro” as a completed task
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes)
  5. Work through four Pomodoros (or Pomodori?) and take a longer break (15–20 minutes)

The method emphasizes the importance of task improvement.  During a Pomodoro session you’re planning, tracking, recording, processing, and visualizing.  Each day you start by prioritizing a list of tasks.  Then you work through these activities in short 25 minute intervals.

There are a lot of benefits to working this way.  First you avoid internal and external distractions that occur while doing longer tasks.  Next you feel a sense of accomplishment by continuously completing a number of tasks.  Finally it’s easy to “self-correct” along the way and become more efficient at how much you get done.

Proponents of this method typically use a mechanical timer, paper and pencil.  The idea here is that physically winding up the timer will confirm your determination to start the task, and the ticking/ringing sounds will condition you to stay focused on tasks.

How to Get Started with The Pomodoro Technique

I over-simplified the technique in the above description.  Fortunately the creator of this technique (Francesco Cirillo) offers a number of freebies on this website.  Specifically he’s giving away:

I recommend starting with the free PDF.  Then use the supporting material to time-block and manage productivity.  You’ll find it’s a great way to tackle multiple Internet-based projects.

Pomodoro Timer Software and Apps

Pomodoro Technique Timer Software

Most people won’t take the time to buy a mechanical timer.   So that’s why I recommend using Pomodoro software programs or apps for the iPad, iPhone, and the Android phone.

#1 – Flowkeeper Software: This is a free download for Windows users.  Just create a task and number of potential Pomodoros and it’ll tick on your desktop.  (I’m using this as I write this article.)

#2 – Pomodoro for Mac Users:  I’m not a Mac user.  But I found good reviews of this software program.  It’s definitely worth testing out.

#3 – Pomodoro iPhone App:  This is the main way that I keep track of my Pomodoros.  It’s a simple app that tracks working blocks and even ticks while working on a task.

For more on its capability; watch this YouTube video:

#5 – Pomodoro iPad App: I don’t own an iPad.  But one of my friends does and he recommended this particular app.  (Plus it has a lot of great ratings from users.)

#6 – Pomodoro Android App:  I checked out a few Android apps and this is the best one I found.  It has great ratings and has a straight-forward interface.  The best part?  Just swipe your phone by the scan button and it’ll instantly download.

3 Limitations of The Pomodoro Technique

Software for the Pomodoro MethodIs this method perfect?  The short answer is no.

I love the fact how I’m able to focus 100% on a task.

However… there are a few things that I don’t like about this technique:

#1 – It Disrupts a Flow State: Paul Wolfe made a great point in one of my recent articles on productivity.

He said:

“One word about Pomodoro. I’ve read lots about it – and lots of people talk about it. IN principle it sounds a worthwhile technique – however there’s an instance where you SHOULDN’T use it. And that’s if you write in ‘flow state.’ Pomodoro just breaks the flow state and actually becomes disruptive.”

I pretty much agree with this statement.  There are times when it’s hard to get going with a task – Like writing.  Breaking down a task into a 25 minute block can often interrupt a task when you’re firing on all cylinders.  Stopping work at this point can break your rhythm.

My solution?  Here’s a quick fix for anyone who works in a flow state.  Use what I call a “cheating Pomodoro.”  Start a normal 25-minute task.  When the timer goes off, make a quick decision if you’re in the zone.  If so, immediately reset the timer and start another task.

The trick here is to use self control.  When the 2nd timer goes off, always take a five-minute break. In my opinion, it’s okay to fudge the occasional Pomodoro.  Overall though, the quick breaks are critical to maintaining concentration on a task.

#2 – It Uses a Daily To-Do List: Frankly I think daily to-do lists are a waste of time.  Too many things happen in a day to accurately determine how much you can accomplish.

Yes, The Pomodoro Technique teaches people to self-correct and learn how to improve management of a task.  I just don’t like how it emphasizes daily actions rather than actions based on a project.

My solution?  I use a project based weekly to-do list.  I don’t create a list of daily actions.  Instead I create a collection of 90 weekly Pomodoros (forty-five hours) that are based on the Internet marketing projects I’ve predetermined.

For example, take a look at my weekly to-do list.

Yeah, it’s pretty crowded.  The important thing to note is I’ve time blocked each of the projects into what I do online.  I created these numbers through trial-and-error; experimenting with what works in my business.

For each section, I have a list of very specific tasks:

  • Communication:  Networking on Twitter/Google+/Facebook, responding to emails, and answering questions from affiliates.
  •  Steve Scott Site Content:  Writing articles, editing images, and posting content to my blog.
  • Future Steve Scott Site Content: Creating in-depth pages about an important topic (like the affiliate marketing strategies overview) and recording videos.
  • Income Content Creation:  Completing actions that increase my niche affiliate income (not this site.)  Like doing split-tests on opt-in pages, rewriting the sales page, and driving traffic to the Go Large Project site.
  • Email Marketing Content Creation:  Sending broadcast/autoresponder emails to my affiliate marketing list.
  • Steve Scott Site Traffic and Conversions:  Testing certain things in my marketing plan to increase traffic and conversions on this blog.  (I’ll talk about this in a future post.)
  • Affiliate Marketing without the Bulls**t Tasks: Rewriting the sales page, creating autoresponders, and building an affiliate center.
  • Miscellaneous Actions: Any random, but important, task that comes up during the week.

I like this method because it identifies my focus areas for the week.  At any given point, I can open up my project task list, start a Pomodoro, and get to work.  I don’t have to worry about a daily list because everything is already predetermined.

#3 – It Doesn’t Count Partial Pomodoros:  With this method you void tasks that are partially completed.  So if you work for 20 minutes and get interrupted; the task doesn’t count.  That can be frustrating if you’re almost done with a Pomodoro.

My Solution: It’s not a very elegant fix.  Whenever I’m interrupted; I annotate how much time I’ve worked on a particular task.  Then I simply continue the time whenever the task is restarted.

I know this is not what’s recommended by Francesco Cirillo.  But even if you only complete ten minutes of work; it’s still ten minutes of work.

How YOU Can Apply The Pomodoro Technique

I’ve experienced a surge in Internet productivity with the Pomodoro method.  I’m now able to stay completely focused on a task and avoid the mental distractions that often happen when you’re working too many hours in a row.

That’s why I give a 100% recommendation of this technique

Use this method if you’re serious about being more productive online. Start by reading the free PDFs I linked to and then go download a Pomodoro timer software.  You’ll discover it’ll help you get more accomplished during a work week.

Questions?  Comments?  Respond below to let me know what you think of this productivity technique…

Take Action. Get Results.

63 thoughts on “The Pomodoro Technique: Internet Productivity 25-Minutes at a Time?”

  1. Hi Steve, this is so awesome. I’m a huge fan of time management and it’s mostly because I have so much to do and find myself with not enough time. I think one of the largest benefits of this is actually setting a time line to complete a task. Sometimes I find myself so off track I’m simply jumping between browser tabs getting nothing accomplished.

    I also like how the iPhone app is available because I tend to be on it a lot and it would help me manage my time even more efficiently.

    • Brian,

      I feel you. I have been into time-management for years now for that exact reason. I never seem to have time to get all the “work” I want accomplished in addition to having time to get all my “real world” stuff like travel, dating and going out with friends sometimes.

      Efficiency is the watchword and it really helps!

  2. I really love this post, Steve.

    For several months now, I’ve been using a technique which is a mix between Pomodoro and your time blocking system (with some adjustments). I already wrote about the details on the comments section of your previous post, so I won’t repeat it again.

    I just want to say thank you because after years trying all kinds of productivity techniques I finally found one that works and fits me. It solved one of the biggest troubles of my professional life.


    • Cristina,

      That is awesome. You cannot imagine how pleased it makes me that a version of this (and the time block) system really works well for you.

      What works for different people will be a little bit variable from person-to-person. What actually surprised me was that when I modified my time block system for this to the 25 minutes blocks, at least for now it does seem to work even a little bit better for me.

      Hopefully this will continue to grow and evolve until the system makes me a killer content creation machine. 😉

  3. Hey Steve, I normally work for many hours on the go and I simply take a break when I need to go to the toilet, when I need to eat or when my eyes are aching!

    25 minutes seems like a very short amount of time to work for and even working by a stopwatch and thinking about taking a break after 25 minutes seems like a task in itself.

    I’ve tried not to spend so much time organizing how I work but just getting on and doing it. It’s done me good so far but I’m always open to new techniques. Will give this a try but I think I’ll increase the time before a break to 45 mins – I’m normally in full flow at 25 mins…

    • Having some sort of forced break helps. Seriously. It may sound counter-intuitive, but those short breaks help you focus a lot.

      Once I worked like you, then for a long time I broke it into the larger chunks like you are talking about,and found a lot more efficiency.

      I have only been trying the “strict” Pomodoros for a little bit now, but I have been surprised that they seem to work pretty well. least give the 45 minute blocks a shot and let me know if it helps for you. I hope you are pleasantly surprised.

      • Hey Steve, wow actually tried this today and it was shockingly good – I timed 5 minute breaks and and I found that I was still rearing to go and it didnt really break my flow.

        I’m also think I’m getting more out of the 45 mins than I typically would as I’m focusing as opposed to semi-working…

        Hopefully this will give me more time in the evening to do things offline 🙂

  4. Hey Steve,

    I’ve used this technique when I had a similar app (I forget the name now) and it was really great on my productivity especially when I was working on putting together the articles for my PLR site. I had to complete 100 articles in about 2 weeks so I new I had to make sure I was working else I wouldn’t have got them done before heading off to Japan and Thailand.

    In short, the method worked perfectly; 25 minutes of hard work, 5 minute break.

    What I found is that it really puts you in the zone to be productive as hell and that 5 minute break lets you rest up but it also has a psychological effect where you want to dive right back in.

    The one down side is what you’ve mentioned, when you’re in “the zone” 25 minutes isn’t enough. Likewise, you have to be careful that you’re not being sloppy because you’re working against the clock.

    Anyway, thanks for the link and resources. I have a large excel sheet of my work that I go through each day but I much rather have something on paper because it feels more official and urgent. I’m gonna download the app and take a look at how it works – now I just need less distractions because I’m stuck here working from the kitchen table – ha!

    • I know I used to use a simple eggtimer app (you set the minutes) on cell phone. Perhaps it was something like that.


      There are tons of ways to skin-the-cat and use this technique. High tech not required 🙂

      It is a pretty good technique. I was originally fond of longer time blocks and was quite surprised how well 25 minutes specifically worked.

      I Feel you on the distractions too. I visited my parents today and they had people working on the roof and every few minutes it seemed the loud banging would interrupt me or someone would come ask me to get something.

      So nice to have my office to work in now!

      No Distractions=Bliss

  5. I am sure that by now you know how much I struggle with time management and I read every piece of advice you put out on it. I have tried this before but didn’t go through the freebies you recommend, I just used a Chrome extension that works on this principle. It is pretty cool timer that keeps me on track (when I actually use it). It is called Green Tomato.

    I am definitely going to go through the materials and try to do this, if there is one thing I need it is better time management and more productivity.

    • Sounds like it IS based on a version of this.

      The word Pomodoro means Tomato in Italian. The guy who started it supposedly used a “tomato” timer.

      I am glad you like the concepts of time management and productivity. It is a theme I think I will be coming back to now-and-then for the next few months.

      Hopefully we can all get a little bit more efficient and productive.

  6. I’ve heard of this technique before and as soon as I started reading through this post the first thing that went off in my head was “I can’t be using this technique when I’m writing posts.” I’m glad you covered that piece of the puzzle too :).

    Honestly, I REALLY need to work on my time management so I may this technique. I like how you outlined the tasks you perform, I may model my task list to do some similar things.

    I’m going to pick up that free software now, or the Green Tomato extension Brankica mentioned.

    • Eugene,

      Once you get used to it, it is actually surprising how well the 25 minute chunks work. Those short 5 minute breaks really can help clarify the mind and make it all go that much faster once you roll back into work. Of course I use the double it up method too (as I said) because of course…sometimes you ARE on a roll.

  7. Hey Scott,

    This is awesome stuff. Productivity is extremely important to all people, no matter you are online or offline. This is what I need to improve immediately!

    Having a stopwatch and lock yourself in for a certain period of time definitely help me to stay focus 🙂


  8. Hey Steve,

    Nice article, I was using the same technique though manually without knowing the name for it. I use to work in a chunk and take small breaks. Thanks for giving it a name for me.

    I like the Android app, I use my smartphone for many things now a days (looks like we all are doing that now a days.)

    • Sanjeev,

      Haha you are 100% right. When did smartphones become such an essential part of our lives?

      Glad to put a name to the technique for ya! Hope you drop in a again and maybe get a new technique. 😉

      Have a great day!


    • I love the 4 hour work week! But in ways a lot of ways it is “rah rah” with little “action”. It is Great for getting you excited and getting your head in the right place. But it is short on the “how to.”

      The Pomodoro technique, though, may be boring to those who are not interested, but is something that is “all about” being tool for taking action.

      Hope you give it a chance and hope it works for ya!

  9. Hi Steve, there’s another advantage to this system and that is regular breaks are much better for your eyes. Focussing on the screen for long periods can seriously damage your eye health. And we can all be guilty of not stopping often enough!

    Enjoy the journey.


    • Mandy,

      I had not really thought of that aspect of it. But now that you say it, I see what you are talking about. Being on the far side of my 30’s those little health things are things I really need to think about too!

  10. Steve,

    To be honest, I’m a time management sucker lol! I used to work long hours until I find myself need a break. I tried time block method before and it worked for some times, but I forgot it completely (bad, isn’t it?) I heard this Pomodoro technique before but I haven’t put it into action yet. I think this could be a good opportunity to try it. Let’s see if it can conquer the sucker inside me 😀


  11. Pomodoro sounds like a working technique for time/task management. Before i never set small intervals of time period like 25 mins to complete a task. Simply i take my own time to make the task perfect. And like to follow up with Pomodoro technique.

    • Tessa,

      Give it a shot. You might be surprised how effective it is. I have used time blocks for a long time. But always longer chunks. I was surprised myself that less time could = more productivity.

  12. Focusing on the screen for long periods can seriously damage your eye health. And we can all be guilty of not stopping often enough!. Thanks! :p

    • Well, it IS a bit stressful. But just a little bit. A very little bit of stress helps you to focus and think faster. That is why some people do extremely well “under pressure”

      Just this little bit of stress focuses the mind and really puts all your mind onto the task at hand.

      Perhaps that is why the “time” is so short. It lets you blow off the accumulating stress before it becomes detrimental.

  13. Hi Steve,
    you are right most of the bloggers and internet marketers spend lots of time without any time management, as a full time blogger I also spend more than 10 hours each day online.
    This Pomodoro technique is new for me, now I wanna give this a try.
    btw few days ago I tried one simple tool called ‘Focus Booster’ ( ) very handy for focusing on small tasks.

  14. Steve,

    First of all – this is a great breakdown of Pomodoro and how to apply it to your online business.

    I have tested it, but somehow I felt like Paul, my flow state was breaking. And I was just getting started 🙂

    I feel that any time management system for that matter becomes “perfect” when you apply it to your own situation.

    My preferred way of working is 45-50 minute chunks at a time with timer and then a small break, 5-10 minutes. After testing various ways of working, I feel that it suits the best for me.

    Anyway, great, in-depth article and great examples too 🙂


    • I feel that any time management system for that matter becomes “perfect” when you apply it to your own situation.


      I do not disagree. I think it is certainly worthy to try new techniques. (because you never know when one might work better for you) But what works for you…works for you. To be honest for a long time i did exactly what you are doing now, and it seemed to work pretty darn well.

      I haven’t been trying this new method for too long. For now, i think it is great (with the sometime :cheating”) 6 months from now i might decide my head was up my ass. The important thing is to have -some- format and structure. Like many other things try everything and cherry-pick those things that are best for YOU.

  15. I am a person who starts on a task slow but as I progress through my work that is when I started moving faster that is why a 25 minute work time may not be good for me but I guess I could revise it to make it longer. I also like your idea of continuing when you think you are in the zone.

    I do believe in breaks as I do most times to collect my thoughts while getting some water or just walking around but not really letting my mind off of what I am actually doing.

    • Julius,

      the important thing is to find the plan that is “for you” not to tailor yourself to a plan that doesn’t work for you.

      I guess (if it would work for you) just the fact that you had limited time might help to focus you starting out. Of course it might also just not be for you 🙂 the only way you really know these things is to try out new techniques.

      Anyhow, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it!


  16. I wonder why he called it the pomodoro technique because for the life of me I can’t work out what the hell it has to do with tomatoes 😀

    I like the way you broke it all up to show us what you do Steve but even so it’s too regimental for me. When it comes to working at home I am probably as inefficient as they come. Truth is I like it that way so I will probably keep going the way I am. Still, I can see how this may help a lot of people and so I’m going to give this a tweet.

    • Sire,

      Supposedly the guy who created the system used an egg timer that was in the shape of a tomato. (like the picture on the page) Pretty simple.

      It may be too much, but at some point you may want to try enacting -some- control over your time. It really is surprising how much more you can get done. Even if you do not use this method…but a looser one. Anyhow, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

  17. This sounds like a really good technique for anyone that runs an online business. The internet is often so distracting that it’s hard to stay focussed for long periods of time. Pomodoro sounds like a really good way to manage that ADHD nature of the internet. Although, I would say it’s probably not the best technique in all situations. Offline, we tend to have tasks where we can get into the zone and focus for longer periods. Of, in your example about writing a blog post, I can focus for a few hours at a time when writing. But the key is to know when to take a break and do something else to refresh yourself.

  18. I tried this technique a couple of months ago. The problem I had was that I kept going OVER the time limit because I didn’t want to lose my productivity. What keeps me productive now is that instead of limiting time, I limit the number of tasks I can work on – one. I work one task from start to completion. I never deviate unless there’s an emergency. Great blog btw.

  19. I always struggle to get down to focussed work and you have persuaded me that there is a way that I’ll be able to do it. I’m getting myself a timer right now so I can give this tecnique a trial.

    I will report back!

    • Pete,

      Please do! Let me know how it works for you. I would like to see how many it helps. I am sure it is not for “everyone” but I think some people may be helped by this a lot.

  20. This is the second time in the past few days that I’ve read about this method. It sounds very interesting and I can definitely see the appeal for many reasons. I’ve noticed that when I give myself a 3 hour time block, I tend to take the whole 3 hours but when I give myself a 1 hour time block, the task only takes me an hour. The psychology behind this is so interesting! I think I might have to give it a try!

    • Karen,

      “nature abhors a vacuum” as they say.

      If you give yourself a long timeline to finsih things you fill that time. That is what makes this system work. It adds a little bit of pressure…without making it TOO much pressure.

  21. I sure love the Pomodoro technique for time management. I just converted a few months ago, and it’s really revolutionizing the way I work and see life. It just seems I have so much more time by doing so.

    One thing that helps a whole lot, is the breaking of time into 25 minute time periods. Why? Well, I think overall it just keeps me focused. Almost like I’m rushing against the clock. It also helps to keep my scattered mind “reigned” in on the task at hand. Not spreading too thin on other projects at a time.

    Just love everything about. Thank you for sharing your own take Steve. Really do appreciate it.

    • Thanks Christian,

      Your reasons are exactly why I like it. The clock focuses the mind wonderfully. NO drifting off on a million different subjects. It is focus, focus, focus!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Glad you find the Pomodoro system very useful too!

  22. I agree with your opinion on the Pomodoro technique. As an IT guy turned entrepreneur, most of the work I do is technical and requires focus for a prolonged period of time. In my field, it can take up to 30 minutes to get “in the zone”, and just a noise to get interrupted.
    Intervals of 25 minutes are insufficient for most of the tasks, therefore I use a different approach and keep track of the tasks using an online software; one advantage with it is that you can start a task, close the web page and reopen it, without having the application running all the time.

  23. The Pomodoro technique is a great way to work in focused bursts. I also sometimes work in dashes (

    Another trick that I use to stay focuses is to use a full screen writing tool. Focuswriter is a good free program that’s cross platform. If you have Word, can use the full screen mode there.

    Finally, if you want to get a sense of how much time you are wasting each day, check out RescueTime (

  24. I love Timey for Mac, dead-simple, free, and non-intrusive.
    I use the pomodoro technique in my PhD work. It helps me to set the bar on what a productive day is. If I focus well and report 9-10 pomodoros I can call it a day. Really, 9-10 doesn’t sound like a lot, but if those pomodoros are spent on that 20% of tasks that report 80% of results, believe me, you are being not only productive but effective.
    Like this I can sprint to get the 9 – 10 pomodoros done soon, and spent residual time on side projects or having fun.

    • Julio!,

      Right on! It may not seem like a lot, but when you are being far more efficient with your time you can get a surprising amount more done. Thanks for dropping by and adding your experience with pomodoros!

  25. I’ve been using the Pomodoro method for the past 7-8 months. I cannot overstate how helpful it has been. It seems almost too good to be true — that abiding by a few simple work rules can greatly increase productivity.

    For me, the greatest problem I have is over-working. That is, I’ll work without breaks when I’m highly motivated on a project, and this always leads to burnout. The most common scenario is launching a new website. I’ll pour all my time and resources into getting it up and running, but after this initial period, I’ll find myself drained and unmotivated.

    Pomodoro’s 25 minute work intervals always feel a bit too short for my liking, but it always keeps me on the safe side of working myself into another burnout state. Also, it is likely a healthy practice to stand up and walk around every half hour, and to also fix your gaze on something further than 2ft infront of you.

    • Bruce,

      I have actually found the same thing. I have been breaking work into time blocks for a while, but only recently have I started using the shorter time blocks. I was also pleasantly surprised how well it actually worked! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  26. I really like this idea. Works great in a home office setting. Taking that mental break between tasks really seems to help my productivity and gives me a chance to re-focus my efforts throughout the day.

  27. Definitely agree with / appreciate the idea of time limitations on work. It seems to be very easy — at least to me — to put in hours and hours before you know it. I think the setup for Pomodro might be a bit of a task in itself however. I wonder if one could simplify things a bit by just working for two hours, twenty minutes at a time, with a seven minute break in between. Just throwing out numbers here but I think the basics of it could be effective.

  28. Hi there! I haven’t use the Pomodoro technique yet, but I use to become a time conscious person when I started to write some articles. I really make sure that I have to be done in my specific time.

  29. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Just wanted to point out that the links to the freebies on the pomodoro technique (ie. the cheat sheet) are no longer live links. Takes you to a 404, page not found.

  30. Hey Steve,

    Well I finally read the whole pdf on the pomodoro technique, going to be using an online countdown clock instead of a kitchen clock which already proved to be just as useful and I’ll see what happens.

    The mere fact of knowing that my productive time is being counted, it already gives me a perception of rush… hope that’s not negative in the ending result!

    Great pointers Steve, thanks! 😉


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