The Pomodoro Technique

Compiled by Kaveh Farrokh (Ph.D.), Counsellor & Learning Specialist at Langara College Counselling Department.


One of the most effective Time Management strategies that also help cope with procrastination is the Pomodoro Technique. Originally developed in 1992 by Francesco Cirillo, this strategy essentially entails breaking up study and learning tasks into manageable chunks. The ultimate aim of the technique is to enhance productivity and to also economize time. Put simply, this is one of a number of time management strategies such as Distributed Learning that moves learners away from last minute cramming and hours of unproductive study and work time.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is as follows:

[1] Set Your Learning Goals (what do you wish to accomplish) – make a check-list which you can check off. Estimate the time needed for each goal. While 25 minutes is a good benchmark you can adjust this as needed (add or reduce the session by five minutes for example)

[2] Set a study session for 25 minutes – set a timer to go off after the 25 minutes

[3] Engage & Focus in the task for 25 minutes

[4] When the timer goes off, quickly check off what you accomplished on your check-list … then take a 5-minute break

[5] Repeat steps [2-4]

[6] After four 25-minute study sessions take a longer break of 15 minutes to half an hour. In essence, four 25-minute sets form one learning block (or set).

More 25-minute sessions can be set as required. Note that as the sessions are relatively short in duration, it is less likely for us to go off track with trivia, especially with distractions. This makes it more likely for one to be more focused during the sessions.

Interestingly, each of the 25-minute sessions is called a “Pomodoro”, the Italian word for tomato.  This is because Cirillo had developed this by using a kitchen-timer in the shape of a tomato during his days as a university student!

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique?

The versatility of the Pomodoro Technique is three-fold:

[1] Consolidation of Learning: breaking up learning into more manageable (“Pomodoro”) chunks allows the brain to more effectively consolidate learning.

[2] Sense of Accomplishment: having set reasonable and manageable goals and achieved them provides the learner with a sense of accomplishment. This often proves motivating and can potentially lead towards a Growth Mind-Set.

[3] An Effective Time Management Tool: Because of [1] and [2] there is less of a tendency to fall behind and procrastinate as more tasks are actually getting done on time.

Helping Keep One’s Focus and Flow

There is also a critical rule for the Pomodoro Technique: If one is interrupted or if one gets distracted as one is engaged in a 25-minute set (or Pomodoro), then this makes the session void. In these cases, the learner is to make a note of the interruption, and then start the (25-minute) session anew.

The Pomodoro Technique was academically researched in 2008 by Federico Gobbo and Matteo Vaccari. These researchers found that the application of the Pomodoro Technique helped increase the speed, quality and productivity of persons engaged in tasks.


Cirillo, F. (2007). The Pomodoro Technique. XPLabs Technical Report version 1.3. English Version, Link:

Gobbo, F. & Vaccari, M. (2008). The Pomodoro Technique for Sustainable Pace in Extreme Programming Teams. In P. Abrahamsson, R. Baskerville, K. Conboy, B. Fitzgerald, L. Morgan, & X. Wang (eds), Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming. XP 2008. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 9. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp. 180–184.




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