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Two Easy Hacks that Make the Pomodoro Focus Technique Work

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve tried quite a few daily rituals and gimmicks, and very few stand the test of time.

But somehow, someway, the Pomodoro technique to carve out 25 minute chunks of dedicated time has stayed with me. It’s my one tried and true method to achieve focus and productivity.

So What is the Pomodoro Technique?

It’s a technique to help remove distractions and get you in a flow like state of productivity in 25 minute bursts of focus, called Pomodoros.

I’ll give you a quick and simplified version as I understand it. I’m stripping it down because I believe the constraints and complexity of the full-blown method actually reduce efficiency of the tool.

Simplified Pomodoro technique to increase focus:

1) Create goals: Pick a task or tasks to accomplish

2) Set a timer for 25 minutes

a. I use my phone timer but I’ve even used a Chrome browser plug-in before

3) Dedicate yourself to work uninterrupted for those 25 minutes to achieve your goal(s)

a. If you are interrupted or distracted, consider restarting the Pomodoro

4) Stop the timer and take a short break of 5-10 minutes

Note: I’ll Repeat for as many Pomodoros as I can do while maintaining mental stamina.

Two easy hacks to catapult efficacy of the technique:

1) Work with incredible intensity for 25 minutes

2) Define what focus means

Details on Hack #1

Intensity is key. If you carve out 25 minutes and work half-heartedly, you don’t really deserve the 5 minute break and this process is not worth it.

I remember what my boss from my first marketing job used to do: lean over his keyboard and put his face almost on the computer screen with a strange, tilted head position. His eyes looked up at the monitor with an incredible focus and he would type like a madman. He was relentless.

That was intensity.

I never adopted his strange head tilt and lean over the keyboard posturing, but he did inspire me by demonstrating what it really means to crank out work.

Not everyone has this natural reserve of focus and intensity; you need to ask yourself for it. Remind yourself what intensity and focus looks like. Motivate yourself with the reward of finishing work sooner and being proud of yourself. Productivity feels good.

Sometimes I think to myself, if I’m not typing as though my life depended on it like my old boss did, then I’m just not giving it my all.

Details on Hack #2

You need to define what focus means, otherwise you’ll forget.

Here’s what I mean: You’re cranking away at a PowerPoint deck making some astonishingly attractive and poignant slides about new growth opportunities. Then your Outlook starts pumping out e-mails from your boss and you take a look. Next thing you know, you’re working on a different task. You’re still working, and this is an e-mail from your boss, but…

Your flow is broken.

When you return to your PowerPoint masterpiece, you’ve lost some of that magic you had before. This is the biggest trap for me. It’s not so much ensuring you have a good mental goal or task list for the Pomodoro, it’s knowing what your mental weaknesses are and what entices you away from focus. You must be incredibly strict about what you define as a distraction vs. a relevant task for the Pomodoro.

Make a list of what NOT to do.

You can also try segmenting Pomodoros. Pick Pomodoros by the mental state required. If you want to barrel through mundane work emails, set a Pomodoro just for that. If you want to be creative, choose tasks that fit within that mindset for that Pomodoro.

A few more tips…

Adjust the length of Pomodoros for whatever your optimal mental stamina is, whether it’s 15 minutes or 2 hours. Consider having Pomodoros hit on the hour or half hour if it’s easier for you to time them. When you take a break, be careful not to erode your focus significantly.

If you play games on your phone for your five minute break, chances are you’re wasting mental capacity. The break should be about renewal; I’ll sometimes go for a quick walk or at least stand up at my desk.

In Conclusion

This technique makes practical sense and it’s easy to employ nature make it the one productivity ritual that will stand the test of time. I hope the two easy hacks can help add even greater clarity to how you define focus and what it means to bring intense focus to your work.

Have you ever used this technique, and if so, what have the results been? Any tips to improve it, or even other focus/productivity techniques worth considering? Let us now in the comments.


I bought this Tomato timer on Amazon. Pomodoro means Tomato in Italian, and some folks online advised that the physical act of winding the timer helps somehow. I’m officially on the Pomodoro bandwagon.

Are you in sales and wondering where the time goes ever day? Give this article from our friends at SKALED a read >>. It directed towards time management for salespeople but has rich content and tips applicable to anyone.


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