Pomodoro technique: how did you get it to work?


Hi y’all! Please bear with me, this is the first time I’ve started a new topic on this forum. And actually, I could have made it a poll, but don’t know how yet.

Anyway, I just did a search on pomodoro on this forum and it seems loads of brains use it successfully. There was just one post that said it was hard to take a break and then get back to work after 5 minutes… I nearly got excited about finding a soulmate on this, then realised that was my own post :flushed:

To be honest, although it makes me feel better if I’m not the only one who fails at this, I am really hoping to hear from a fellow Brain who managed to turn things around on this. How did you do this?

My first time was a disaster and I haven’t tried again yet (it worked brilliantly for the first 25 minutes, then I left my phone downstairs and ‘went to have a quick look for that bill to pay after the break’. I left the phone downstairs on purpose, to not get sucked into any internet stuff on my break, but got so annoyed/fed up with myself for not finding the bill that I found offline procrastination stuff to do instead).

Does anyone here have experience of getting the pomodoro technique to work after a bad start? Tips?


I’m afraid I haven’t found the answer to that one yet, looking forward to seeing if anyone else does!

I find that I get distracted no matter what, if the task I’m doing is inherently boring. Pomodoro only works for me (rarely) when I’ve managed to gamify whatever I’m doing also, like if I sing while I wash dishes or see how much of my room I can tidy before I have to go out somewhere. It never worked for studying for me because it was soooooo dull that I just could not stay focused no matter what I did. In the end, I relied on doing everything the night before out of sheer panic.

I find that I’m really oppositional too, which could be an ADHD thing or a me thing, I don’t know :stuck_out_tongue: But if I set a rule for myself, I sometimes end up thinking “you know what? I know the person who made that rule, she’s an idiot, ignore it…”


May be a windup pomodoro timer would work better? You can carry it with you as it won’t be very distracting.

I’d pay real money for a fidget toy that doubles as a pomodoro timer :slight_smile:


I use it on my smartwatch :slight_smile:


I have also struggled with breaks. It helps to ritualize this stuff. Have something planned to do on your breaks that isn’t likely to get you too sucked in. Doesn’t have to be always the same stuff, but do have plans. I have several. For example I stand up, go to the kitchen, and make a cup of tea. Or I go to the balcony with my favorite stim toy to get some fresh air. Or maybe a couple of fitness exercises to stretch and clear my mind. I cannot scroll 5mn on tumblr or watch a youtube video though, this leads to horrible procrastination crash :slight_smile:


I too take tea breaks. I find I take more breaks when using a standing desk as I am not standing still in any case. If I’m sitting, I’m more easily tempted to take an “internet break”. And I feel sleepy after lunch if I sit. Not so if I stand or walk about.


I remember when I started using the pomodoro technique it wasn’t easy at first. I think I just persisted.

I started when I was in college for the second time as an adult. I used it for assignments.

It may have helped that I enjoyed what I was doing. Maybe try using the pomodoro technique for work you enjoy to start off with?

There’s also the possibility that the pomodoro technique is not for you and there is another technique out there that will work better for you.


I had one, in the shape of a :chicken: ! I looked everywhere (obviously not quite everywhere because I didn’t find it :sweat_smile:) and downloaded one as a last resort.

Today I looked again, and amzingly found a different one which I didn’t even know I had (looks like one from a conference that my wife went to or something as it has a logo on it). Fun fact: this one is in the shape of an :egg: :rofl:

Going to try it again later, have to call someone first (really! I have a appointment, not procrastinating this time:wink:)


I think what helps for me is that I don’t use a pomodoro… persay…

Instead i have a timer on my watch set for 25 mins that automatically counts down again after every 25min cycle. At the 20 minutes point I get back to work. But if I’m feeling reALly unproductive I’ll laze around but tell myself that no matter what I NEED to get back to work by the end of 25mins --in this way I can get bigger rewards to look forward to bc now I have 25mins to make a snack!

Sometimes I motivate myself by saying if I complete 2-3 proper pomodoros I get a 25min break

The 25 minutes thing is really life saver BC I don’t turn it off when I need to be productive and it really improves my sense of time. When I Do turn it off because I know (for once) I’m not rushing like at mealtime/ designated rest time I feel more relaxed and free…

I also keep a clock on my desk and WRITE DOWN the timing I stopped a 25min cycle and when to start studying again. I also draw a cross for each successful pomodoro. Even if my breaks stretch to like 15 mins… Just seeing my pomodoro sets written out makes me feel accomplished


Thanks cat! Do you have this timer running like all day then? Every day? And sometimes you work several 25 min slots back to back?

Sorry if I’ve misunderstood, I’m just trying to work this out. Technically that wouldn’t be pomodoro method, but as it’s the frequent short breaks that are worrying me, I am very interested in alternatives :grinning:


I use it just when I feel I need a kick in the you-know-what.
When I really need something to be finished NOW, but I have the time to procrastinate
Like cleaning. I need to do it NOW, because tomorrow I won’t have time for it and the day after, my family in law will come over to babysit. I want to have a clean home, but that alone isn’t giving me enough motivation. I need something that tells me when to start, and when to stop (or else I start hyperfocussing and my toilet is steriele enough to eat out of it but the rest is still a mess)

Or at work, it could be good, to motivate you when you’re feeling like your head is going in 'squirrel’mode and you’re not doing what you should be doing.

It’s not something I use constantly. Than it would lose it’s ‘magic’


I’ve tried a few times, but have never been able to get the Pomodoro technique to “stick” as a professional tool for me - i.e. it doesn’t work at work.

What does work for me (at home) is a simple timer on my phone set for 5 or 10 minutes. I use it when I start feeling overwhelmed with my home being in disarray and can’t seem to get myself started on cleaning things up. If I remember to use this technique, I can stop myself in front of the dishes or dirty clothes and commit to 5 minutes of activity.

The reason it works is that, after 5 minutes of flat out work I can immediately see the difference (“Wow, I can see my floor now!”). In my mind, that pile of clothes looks like a mountain that I’ll need planning and provisions to climb. When I see that I can make huge amounts of progress in just a few minutes I’ll often want to keep going.


I use an app called Focus To Do that you can use on your microsoft computer. It is much better than using my phone for me at least.


My research advisor told me to use mytomatoes.com and that it has been helpful to her. Though it personally didn’t work for me that well, it does help you keep track of the tasks that you’ve done in the 25 min time frame (which is my favorite thing about it) and it also allows you to take longer break if you want. You can also have it make a clock sound or make an alarm sound when the 25 minutes or 5 minutes of break is over.

I think it’s usually easier for me to just keep going until I know my brain is getting tired or my productivity level is decreasing and if I want to take a break in between, I would just do something supper simple like walking around a bit (without leaving the room) or stretching. That’s because it would be really hard for me to make myself focus on a subject again if I take a short break in between (but that might just be me? I’m generally bad at both starting and stopping tasks)! But I do take longer breaks after I’m done.

I’m terrible with time but here’s a few other things that I suggest. They work when I can implement them correctly, however usually it’s hard for me to get started in the first place/ remember what I’m doing and not switch tasks too rapidly (one thing that I find specifically helpful for that is setting alarms so I just remember what I should be working on … though it usually won’t mean that it makes me get my work done if I’m not already doing it it does give me a better sense of time generally). Setting realistic goals (daily/ weekly goals and goals per each “tomato” (this is a my tomatoes reference) and keeping track of the goals that you accomplished and having a reward system based on that can also help (though if you’re not so great at internal motivation, it can be relatively hard but if you have someone like a friend hold you accountable for that it can be easier on your end and be an equally good system).


I downloaded an app called Forest. You can set how much time you want to go for (like 25 min) and plant a tree. If you move to any other app on the phone (other than answering a phone call) your tree dies. When you grow a tree, you also earn points that let you buy other kinds of trees. The trees accumulate. Every day/week/month/year you can see your progress in the form of a virtual forest.

The downside, sometimes I avoid starting a tree because I don’t want to be kept off my phone. Or I’ll start one and not actually do the thing I was supposed to do during the 25 mins. So, that takes some motivational focus on my part.


I’m gonna give this a shot! Thanks for sharing! Here’s a link to the Forest app that @Gaeliceyes mentioned earlier :slight_smile:


I think I am very likely to watch my trees grow… :sweat_smile:

Thanks for all these suggestions, it is really helping me to work stuff out.

My son just showed me a cool thing I want to try: it’s some kind of focusing thing for typing on a laptop. It covers your whole screen with a background of your choice, leaving you a ‘piece of paper’ in the middle to type on, with no formatting.

My son had a way too interesting looking background that wouldn’t work for me, but he showed me one that is just a wooden table, that should work. My wife is always telling me to leave the formatting to the end but I always do it the slow and distracting way, when I am supposed to be producing actual content.

It’s this one: