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In the late 1980s, Francesco Cirillio developed and introduced a technique named after the tomato. Despite the playful name, his time-management discipline can help leaders like you be more productive and gain the time you need to focus on your principal job—leading.

tomato timerIn his LinkedIn profile, Cirillo claims many accomplishments having to do with time management. Among them is a time-saving, productivity discipline named after the Italian word for tomato—the Pomodoro Technique. It employs a time-management process called timeboxing, which breaks work down into manageable time periods.

The Pomodoro website features books, courses, and the video below to explain how the technique works.

The video gave you the following six objectives, in which a specific period of time, usually about 25 minutes, equals one Pomodoro.

  1. Determine how long it typically takes you to accomplish a specific task
  2. Learn to protect your Pomodoro from distractions
  3. Measure how many Pomodoros it takes to complete a certain activity
  4. Recap and Review each Pomodoro
  5. Create a timetable for to-dos, time of day, and seasons
  6. Set an overall life objective


Practical Pomodoro

Practicing the Pomodoro Technique, however, includes the following five steps. As you use the technique, you will adjust it to suit yourself and to reach your maximum level of efficiency and productivity. It’s your time, after all, and you should use it rather than let it use you.

Choose one task

As you saw in the video, “one task” means blocking out other distracting demands on your attention.

Work for 25 minutes

Cirillo recommends buying and using his tomato-shaped timer, but you have a timer in your smartphone. Set it to a Pomodoro timebox that works best for you.

Take a five-minute break

Here again, you might need only three or as many as ten minutes. You’ll do yourself a big favor if you use your break to engage in a physical activity.

Repeat steps 1 through 3 three more times

Keep in mind that to make this technique work, you must honor the indivisible nature of the Pomodoro. No slicing or dicing your Pomodoro!

Take a 15-minute break

Again. Move around and enjoy your time off before returning to your next Pomodoro.

Cirillo’s book, The Pomodoro Technique, available in print and digital formats, goes into more detail about dealing with distractions and getting the most out of the technique.

Breaking work down into planning, tracking, recording, processing and visualizing stages is not new. But isn’t it more fun to think of time in terms of tomatoes?


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.