Count Pomodoro

count-pomo“Dinner!” my mother shouts upstairs to me.

“I’ll be down in 7 and a half minutes.”


When my mom asks about the seemingly random time, I explain that I was finishing a Pomodoro. She nods and hands me a bowl of asparagus. She doesn’t want to hear about this again, and is suggesting that I fill my mouth with food.

I have been quoting time in Pomodoros the last few days to the point where I may sound like the Count from Sesame Street.

“I have done three, three Pomodoros! Mwahahahaha!”

But you see, it’s necessary.

I have been in the U.S, or as I like to call it, Utopia, for two weeks now. I have spent some hectic days lounging on a rocking chair, reading, and greeting my dad’s patients as they arrive for teeth cleaning and root canals. When my mom gets home, she makes dinner and I bother her with questions about her day as she huffs around the kitchen cooking me things. Tis a grand life.

When I am visiting home my schedule is that of a retired beach bum. I am on vacation, I am treated like royalty by my parents, and it is as hot as hell’s space heater. Ideally, my mornings involve a good workout and writing, leaving my afternoons free to read and watch the Phillies get killed. However, I am sometimes carried away on the wings of lackadaisical slovenliness inherent to the summer vacation.

It’s on those lackadaisical days I speak in vague, lazy terms. I did a little writing. I did some work. I tried to get a bit done. It’s also these days whose events I can’t remember or whether they involved a shower.

Something needed to change. And it was on one lucky day in the middle of August that I stumbled upon Pomodoro, which is a time management system that entails focusing on one task for specific periods of time.

The basics: One Pomodoro is 25 minutes, and every four Pomodoros is separated by 5 minute breaks. Thus, 4 Pomodoros plus the 5 minute breaks is 2 hours. After the fourth Pomodoro, you take a 15-30 minute break. In those 25 minute periods you focus solely on one task until it is finished (no matter how many periods it takes) and then you move on to the next task.

The number of Pomodoros one should do each day is 10. If you do 10 Pomodoros, you will have done 4.2 hours of work. Work. Not dabbled in work while switching between Tinder, Reddit, and coffee with colleagues. And you certainly don’t have to do all 10, or even 4, in one stretch. You can spread them throughout the say (i.e. 3 Pomodoros in the morning before a meeting, 2 after the meeting, 3 after lunch, etc).

The one rule is that the 25 minutes of each Pomodoro is sacred to your task. There is no multitasking, you do not jump from task to task, but rather stay on one until it’s done. You might be slightly more anal (like me) and write a list of tasks that need to be accomplished and tick them off as you complete them.

Just as there is no multitasking, there are also no distractions. So during the 25 minute period, you do not check email, Facebook, or Twitter. You don’t look at the news or text someone. In fact, even if you have a question about the task you are working on, you are encouraged to jot a note and check it on your 5 minute break. If something comes up that you need to deal with (i.e. an important phone call), you simply pause the Pomodoro Timer and restart it when you’re done.

It is a system that suits me because I often have a scattered mind and fall into bad habits of multi-tasking, distraction, and procrastination. With the whole internet at my fingertips, I find it hard to stay on task before drifting into one of the internet’s sexy time eaters. While I do get my work done, it’s usually not done efficiently, and I have found that I need to work later and longer on something than I should.

Additionally, having a timer literally count down the 25 minutes works perfectly for me. Otherwise the whole day is open and parameter free. The hours are countless. I could do that now, but I’ll watch a Youtube video or check Facebook first, I do have four hours after all.

I don’t have to tell you how quickly four hours become forty minutes.

Conversely, if I have an obligation sooner rather than later (i.e. class in 45 minutes), my brain seems to assume that I have no time to do anything at all so it can easily slip into “let’s putz around and waste time on the internet” mode. But that’s one 25 minute Pomodoro and a completed task.

I know I sound like the preachy love child of a vegan and a Crossfit trainer, but it works for me and I thought it might work for some of you guys. I set the day’s tasks and barrel through them until they are completed. Once that timer starts it’s all business and once it stops I have five minutes to grab a coffee or watch cat vidoes. Or greet people worried about root canals.

  1. #1 by Roberta Souza on September 14, 2016 - 6:09 pm

    This is a great idea. I too find myself drifting. Then half my day is gone. Thank you. Gonna read up on it and give it a try. Can’t hurt!

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on September 14, 2016 - 10:07 pm

      I hope you find it useful! I sure have. And please report back if it does help you out, please. I’d love to know.

  2. #3 by Roberta Souza on September 14, 2016 - 11:28 pm

    Will do

  3. #4 by Lenka on September 18, 2016 - 7:02 pm

    Good to know before writing my master thesis. Thanks a lot 🙂

    • #5 by Damien Galeone on September 19, 2016 - 12:58 pm

      hahaha. I hope it helps, Lenka! I think it really could.

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