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Pomodoro Virtual Study Sessions – Spring 2021: The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Process

Pomodoro Resources

The Pomodoro Technique (book)

Available on Amazon for around $16.


Pomodoro Sheets

  1. Activity Inventory Sheet
  2. To Do Today Sheet
  3. Records Sheet

Available on francescocirillo.com for around $4.


Pomodoro Apps

Available on francescocirillo.com for free

poh-moh-DOH-roh ("tomato" in Italian)

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(March 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th, 30th and 31st)

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MacMillan Library Virtual Research Services (January 4, 2021 - May 14, 2021):

          Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

MacMillan Library Building Hours (January 19, 2021 - May 14, 2021)

Monday - Thursday: 8am - 9pm
Friday: 8am - 6:30pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Noon - 6pm

Virtual Reference Desk (Zoom Meeting ID: 930-5184-4067) 
Monday - Thursday: 10am - 4pm
Friday: 10am - 2pm
Saturday - Sunday: Closed

Six Steps to the Pomodoro Technique

Taken from the Francesco Cirillo Work Smarter, Not Harder website:

The Core Process of the Pomodoro Technique consists of six steps:

1. Choose a Task You Would Like to Get Done.

Something big, something small, something you've been putting off for a million years: it doesn't matter.  What matters is that it's something that deserves your full, undivided attention.

2. Set the Pomodoro for 25 Minutes

Make a small oath to yourself: I will spend 25 minutes on this task and I will not interrupt myself.  I can do it!  After all, it's just 25 minutes.

3. Work on the Task Until the Pomodoro Rings

Immerse yourself in the task for the next 25 minutes.  If you suddenly realize you have something else you need to do, write the task down on a sheet of paper.

4. When the Pomodoro Rings, Put a Checkmark on a Paper

Congratulations!  You've spent an entire, interruption-less Pomodoro on a task.

5. Take a Short Break

Breathe, meditate, grab a cup of coffee, go for a short walk or do something else relaxing (i.e. not work related).  Your brain will thank you later.

6. Every 4 Pomodoros, Take a Longer Break

Once you've completed four Pomodoros, you can take a longer break.  Twenty minutes is good.  Or 30.  Your brain will use this time to assimilate new information and rest before the next round of Pomodoros.

Dealing with Interruptions

When using the Pomodoro Technique, interruptions can be a real issue.  The basis of the Pomodoro is 25 minutes of uninterrupted work - which is not always possible.  So, how do you deal with interruptions when they come up during a Pomodoro?  (And they will come up.)

Internal Interruptions

Internal interruptions are giving in to an immediate need to interrupt a Pomodoro to get up, walk around, get a drink, get something to eat, make a call that suddenly seems urgent, looking up something online or checking emails.  These are ways of procrastinating during the activity at hand and they tend to disguise our fear of not being able to finish what we are working on the way we want and when we want.  To free ourselves from these internal interruptions, we have to work on two fronts:

  1. Make the interruptions clearly visible.  Every time you feel a potential interruption coming on, put an apostrophe (') on the sheet where you are recording your Pomodoros.  Then, 
  2. Make a decision about what do to with the interruption by choosing one of the following:
    1. If you think it is imminent and can't be put off, write it down on your To Do Today Sheet under "Unplanned and Urgent," then return to the current Pomodoro work.  You can work on the interruption task during the next Pomodoro.  
    2. If it can be put off until a later Pomodoro, add it to you Activity Sheet, give it a deadline, then return to the current Pomodoro work.
  3. Intensify your determination to finish your current Pomodoro.  As a rule, once the Pomodoro begins, it has to ring.  If it doesn't ring, then the Pomodoro wasn't "completed" and should be voided.  Yes, this is drastic, however, it is the best way to maintain your focus for the full 25 minutes.

The goal is to (1) accept the fact that needs do emerge (and shouldn't be neglected) and (2) keep the focus on the current Pomodoro task at hand.  Interruptions should be captured so you can look at them objectively later but they cannot not disturb the concentration of the current Pomodoro.  

External Interruptions

Minimizing external interruptions calls for the ability to "protect" the ticking Pomodoro. 

  1. If you are alone... and the phone rings, let it go to voicemail.  If emails are coming in, turn off notifications or turn off email all together.  Protect the ticking Pomodoro and continue to focus on the task at hand.  After all, it's less than 25 minutes before your next break.
  2. If a colleague or study partner interrupts you... politely say you are in the middle of something and can't be interrupted.  Tell them you would rather talk in 25 minutes, in a few hours or tomorrow depending on how urgent and important the matter is.  

If you absolutely have to interrupt a Pomodoro, there's only one thing to do - void the current Pomodoro even if it's about to ring.  Then put a dash where you record Pomodoros to keep track of interrupted Pomodoros.  Take a five-minute break, then start the Pomodoro for the urgent activity.  

For more tips and techniques for handling interruptions and making the most of your recording sheets, buy book, The Pomodoro Technique, or check out the audio book from Emory Libraries!

Francesco Cirillo's Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is organized into Six Incremental Goals:

Goal #1 - Find out how much effort an activity requires

Goal #2 - Cut down on interruptions

Goal #3 - Estimate the effort for activities

Goal #4 - Make the Pomodoro more effective

Goal #5 - Set up a timetable

Goal #6 - Define your own objectives.

Best Pomodoro Apps

Check out JotForm's 15 Best Free Pomodoro Apps to try in 2021, Dec. 30, 2020.

  1. focus booster
  2. Tomatoes
  3. PomoDoneApp
  4. Focus Keeper
  5. Focus To-Do
  6. Marinara Timer
  7. Pomello
  8. Toggl
  9. Be Focused
  10. Pomodoro Tracker
  11. Clockwork Tomato
  12. Forest
  13. Tide
  14. Bear Focus Timer
  15. Pomotodo