The Pomodoro Technique


In my time at University, I’ve spent a lot of time fine-tuning my skills and perfecting my repertoire as a designer. To date, I’ve become confident with Adobe, tinkered with Arduino boards and even tried my hand at brand identity and service design. However, the thing that I’ve become best at in my time at Dundee would have to be procrastinating.

Yes, it’s true, I am a serial procrastinator and I unfortunately always have been. It’s become something of a forte, and the extent to which I procrastinate has just grown more and more. Like many other students, I am a master of the Procrasti-Nap (where you genuinely convince yourself that sleeping for half an hour will make all of your work go away) and recently I have even regressed into a child-like state when I found a Pokemon simulator online. Truth be told, I will probably even procrastinate whilst writing this blog post.

I have even read arguments to suggest that procrastinating is a sign of a creative mind. Alas, the reality is that procrastinating and productivity is a problem that I tend to face day in, day out. As a designer, I realised that if there’s anyone out there with the skillset to tackle this problem, then it’s me. So, as I began to plan how I would maintain motivation, I caught word of a design solution that already solves my problem.

I heard of the Pomodoro Technique last week in class after our lecturer recommended it for anyone struggling with productivity in the run up to hand ins. The name “pomodoro” comes from the Italian for “tomato”, and no, it doesn’t involve some secret Adderall inspired ailment derived from tomatoes. It instead comes from the creator’s tomato shaped timer that they developed the technique with. It’s a nice back-story for a product that can be found in the app-store, or if you get too distracted by your phone, you can buy an official timer to break down your work.

It seemed a bit too good to be true, so my next day at work I decided to apply the technique to see if I could actually increase my productivity. The technique itself works by breaking down long periods of working into segments of 25 minutes or “Pomodoro’s” as they are known, separated by 5 minute breaks over the space of 2 and a half hours. After 4 Pomodoro’s are completed the user can then take a half hour break – sounds pretty fair right?

On the first day of using the technique, I struggled to adjust to my new tomato time-management dictatorship. The first Pomodoro actually went really well, with a full 25 minutes sorting out my WordPress, however it was the first break where I indulged, making my 5 minute break last for 25, when I convinced myself that it was alright to watch half of the new episode of Better Call Saul. Instantly, I had broken the golden rule of Pomodoro.

Yet I persevered with the technique, and the more I tried it the more it has worked for me. In all honesty the past week has possibly been my most productive in a while. Despite this, for those thinking of using the technique, I would suggest a couple of things. Before you start your work, plan out what it is you are doing (this advice is probably applicable to anything ever). Some Pomodoro’s I waywardly chose a random task to do, and after the 25 minutes had passed I just felt like I’d done nothing productive. Also, set ambitious but realistic targets – one day I planned to do about 6 different things and did not achieve them, not because I was lazy, but because I was simply giving myself too much to do.

I encourage anyone who, like me, struggles with productivity to give the Pomodoro technique a try. After all, with hand in’s, degree shows and internships to worry about, April is going to be a long, long month. You never know, it might just be the boost you need!


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