How I Use the Pomodoro Techique

For more than a year, I have been using my own geeky implementation of the Pomodoro Technique and I have had tremendous success with it. Wanted to see if anyone else was using it to success and how you go about it.

Here is what has worked for me:

1) 30 minute Blocks
The traditional Pomodoro Technique recommends 25 minutes of work with a 5 minute break up to 4x then a longer break after the fourth Pomodoro. Personally I like 30 minute blocks. Easier to tally up total hours of focused work.

2) Tracking with Day One and TextExpander
I have two journals in Day One: “Today” and “This Week”. My today journal is where I track my work through out the day. I have two TextExpander snippets that I use in my daily journal. The first one is a list of four questions and 3 action items that I use to start and chart my day:

  1. What has your attention?
  2. What progress did you make yesterday?
  3. What are you thankful for right now?
  4. What 3 things do you want to accomplish today?

After that, when I am ready to start a new Pomodoro (30 minute block of uninterrupted, focused work)
I type “pomx” and I have a snippet that:

  1. Calculates thirty minutes from right now
  2. Calculates 5 minutes from when the Pomodoro ends
  3. Has a place for me to write out what project I am working on as well as take a break

3) SkullCandy Wireless headphones and Focus@Will Music
When I am actually working, I put my headphones on, start a 30 minute timer in the Focus@Will app, write down the project I am working on and then go to town. It is amazing how incredible this little ritual has become. As soon as I feel the headphones on my head and hear the music, it’s like I enter the Deep Work dimension and get lost. I am constantly shocked at how much I can get done in 30 focused minutes as well as how quickly it goes by.

4) Focus App
I love the Focus App! You can find it at and what it does is add an extra layer of security to your block of time that I have just created with my journal and Pomodoro timer in Focus@Will. Essentially, you designate those apps or websites that are particular time-waster temptations and you add them into the Focus app list. Then, when I start my Focus@Will timer, the very next thing I do is hit the keyboard shortcut to activate the Focus app (I also have the Focus app set to 30 minute intervals by default).

Then the fun happens! When focus is active, what it does is essentially block those apps and websites from you for the period of time time you have allotted. If you try and visit one of your distractable websites, Focus overrides the browser with some inspirational quote to remind you that its work time. When the timer inside Focus ends, everything is unlocked again.

So If I do it right, both of my timers start and stop at the same time giving me clear boundaries for when I am doing concentration-centric work and when I am free to take a break.

This system of tracking my time, listening to concentration music and protecting myself from my own distracted internal curiousity has paid incredible dividends in my daily productivity.

If you use the Pomodoro technique or something similar how is it working for you?


I agree with you about Pomodoro length, 20 is too short; I feel like I’m hitting my stride about 10-15 minutes into work and taking a break at 20 or 25 minutes interrupts that flow. 40 min is about right for me, with a 10 min rest period to get up and stretch my legs.

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I began using the pomodoro technique in 2011 when Francesco was giving away a PDF that you spent your first 2 pomodoros reading as a way to learn the system. I was religious about it for a good long while, and learned a lot about external and internal distractions and estimating my time properly. When I was consulting full-time, I created timetables to work towards so I didn’t eat at my hourly rate by taking too long to do tasks. Simple as it is, it’s been an invaluable method for me.

The thing I love best about it is that when I’m in procrastination mode, “do this thing for 25 minutes,” is a lot less overwhelming than “do this thing.”

As my work has changed to reading/writing for academic study, I’ve been feeling like 25 minutes is too short as well. I may give your 40/10 a try @Aaron_Antcliff.

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Oh, and I mostly use an actual ticking timer at home and Be Focused with the ticking sound turned on at school, but lately I’ve been experimenting with the timer feature of Binaural (β) .

I agree that 25 min is too short, especially if you’ve had to change contexts from another project/domain (which can take 15 mins in itself). I’m usually good for about an hour. If I’m writing code, I can go longer.

I use a couple of different timers:

Time Timers are analog, don’t tick, and are great for people who have difficulty with time and its passage.

I also use Vitamin-R, a great app that helps me focus on the task at hand. The time slices are extendable, so you could set out to do 25 minutes, then extend if you’re on a roll. Similarly, time slices can be paused if you get a call or the dog needs to go out. Built into the paradigm of using Vitamin-R is deciding what you’re going to do (simple, yet profound), and making a little note of it.


I like Vitamin R (now in v3). It can be a bit fiddly – there are many options – and it is best to use TextExpander or Typinator short cuts similar to @bodiequirk’s when filling in the built-in logs in Vitamin R. It has integration with OmniFocus and Things so tasks can be dragged into Vitamin R.

When not using a Pomodoro app, we frequently use Alexa for timers: “Alexa, set a reading timer for 40 minutes”. There are several Pomodoro skills available for Alexa – never tried any of them.

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I use Fredrico Viticci’s Siri Shortcut that sets a timer on my iPhone, puts it into Do Not Disturb, and starts a timer in Toggl so I can keep track of the number of hours in any given context. You can find it here :slight_smile:

I’ve been working in 25-minute intervals long before there was a name for it. I have used FlexTime routine for years to make this happen. I wrote more about it here if you want to learn more.

Any recommendations for best pomorodo app across iOS and iPadOS?