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Finding your focus with the Pomodoro Technique

No matter where you are in your journey, focus can be one of the biggest challenges. Both new and seasoned developers alike need a little help concentrating on their projects or courses. We live in a busy, distracted world, but we can use proven productivity techniques to help us stick with our goals.

One of the most popular productivity methods is the Pomodoro Technique, which gets its name from a tiny kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. We love this productivity hack, and many learners have used it to achieve their goals. Below, we'll explain what the Pomodoro Technique is, the benefits it provides, who uses it, and how it can help you.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, allows you to boost your productivity by alternating between scheduled periods of work and rest. We all struggle with constant interruptions dragging our attention away from the tasks at hand. No one's immune to the silent call of our inboxes, notifications, and to-do lists. But with the Pomodoro Technique, you can use these distractions to your advantage.

Essentially, you could look at the Pomodoro Technique as a way to gamify your focus. Here's how it works:

  • Choose a task that you want to work on.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes. Commit to focusing 100% on your task for the duration of the timer.
  • When the timer dings, reward yourself with a 5-minute break. This counts as a single Pomodoro.
  • Then, set another 25-minute timer and get back to work.
  • After four Pomodoros, give yourself a longer 20 – 30 minute break.

One of the best mindsets to have when trying out the Pomodoro Technique is to challenge yourself to focus your hardest. You can even bribe your brain by offering it a delicious snack or cup of coffee during your break — if and only if you stay focused for 25 minutes.

What are the benefits of using the Pomodoro Technique?

The biggest benefit of the Pomodoro Technique is that it boosts your productivity. It's much easier to focus on your work when you know that your alarm will notify you when it's time for your next break. For many, even the act of physically setting the timer helps put them into "work mode."

The Pomodoro Technique also helps improve your productivity by giving you a better understanding of your capabilities. Keep track of how much work you completed during each of your pomodoros. We typically underestimate how long a task will take us to complete, but by keeping track of our pomodoros, we can more accurately estimate the time requirements for future projects.

While many developers love the Pomodoro technique for helping them focus, they also love it because it reminds them to take breaks. Fede, one of our Community Coordinators, explains how the breaks can serve as a reminder to take care of yourself:

"A lot of people will sit in front of their computer for hours and forget to drink water. Staying hydrated will help you with concentration and stress."

As Fede points out, you could tie your use of the Pomodoro Technique to a health goal. Try standing up, drinking a glass of water, and stretching during your breaks. If you're looking to add some movement in between work sessions, try a couple of push-ups or lunges. It might sound strange, but getting yourself moving and giving your brain a short break could also help your focus.

Who uses the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique has been widely adopted, and its effectiveness has been supported by the professionals at Forbes, The Muse, Lifehacker, and more. It's also widely used by the Codecademy community. Last month, the technique appeared in our list of tips to help you stay focused. Here's what one of our learners, LJ, has to say about the Pomodoro Technique:

"I think it helps your brain not only take a break but helps you clear your mind and think differently. So when you come back to your studying or trying to fix a coding error, you might see something that you didn't before."

Fede, who we heard from earlier, explains how the technique allows him to stay focused throughout the day:

"I'll do 25 focus, 5 break if I plan on being engaged all day. For myself, I found it to be the best way I can get to 9 pm and still going strong."

Yiz, another one of our learners, also describes her experiences with the Pomodoro Technique:

"I think Pomodoro style lets you truly focus on something and make real progress, and then quickly recharge your energy by shifting your focus for a moment."

Give the Pomodoro technique a try in your next course

If you find it difficult to concentrate on one task at a time but really have your heart set on learning a new skill, give the Pomodoro Technique a try. Many people are skeptical of productivity hacks, but this one works!

You don't need to beat yourself up for not being focused. You just need to try using some new tools. When you open up your next project or start your next programming course, start that timer at the top of the screen and set it for 25 minutes. Once you've done four focus sessions, sit back and relax. You've put in the hard work, and now you can move on to other things in your day.

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Kattie Thorndyke

Kattie Thorndyke

Kattie Thorndyke is a professional engineer who worked exclusively in motorsport and automotive engineering utilizing OpenFOAM open source CFD software to optimize full-vehicle aerodynamics.

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Finding your focus with the Pomodoro Technique
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