The Pomodoro technique is an interesting and useful way to organise your day and by using it you can get more done in less time. Download a Pomodoro app for your iOS device and work smarter and faster today.
Pomodoro is actually the Italian word for tomato, which is why you will see a lot of red and a lot of tomatoes if you look up the technique on the web or download some apps.
It is a very simple technique that is easy to understand and straightforward to implement. I am very sceptical of anything mystical, pseudoscientific or metaphysical, but although it might sound it, it isn’t and it is simply old fashioned time management.
Pomodoro breaks up your time into 30 minute sessions. For 25 minutes you work as hard as you can, then for the last five minutes you have a break in which you can do anything you like – have a coffee, daydream, stretch your legs and so on. Then it is back to work for another session – 25 minutes work and five minutes break.
After four Pomodoro sessions you have a longer break, which can be 15 or even 30 minutes. Then it starts all over again with 25 minutes working, five minutes break, and so on. There is nothing magical about 25 minute work sessions and five minute breaks, and it just seems to be a reasonable length of time to work and rest. Sessions can be longer or shorter if you prefer and some people even break down tasks into 10 minute periods, but that may be going a bit too far.
The technique employs clocks, timers and alarms because you need to know when to stop working, start your break, end your break and start working again. An ordinary watch or clock is no use, because you will forget when you started, you will get distracted and forget to stop, and so on.
You need some sort of device that sounds an alarm at the appropriate time and it is possible to use kitchen timers meant for cooking. The sort of thing you set to tell you when the apple pie you placed in the oven is done.
Mobile phones are perfect for displaying clocks, setting timers and sounding alarms and there are many Pomodoro apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Basic ones are free and are fine, but better, more feature packed, ad-free ones are available if you don’t mind paying for them. They are quite cheap if you want to go Pro.
The Pomodoro technique works quite well for easily distracted or disorganised people. With a clock or timer next to you, you can force yourself to concentrate, knowing that there will be a little reward after 25 minutes in the form of a short break. You should try it.
This app is available in free and Pro versions and I used the free one on an iPhone. The main screen shows a large countdown timer that is started with a tap. An alarm sounds at the end of each work or break period.
In the settings you can set the work duration, length of short and long breaks and the target number of Pomodoros to achieve each day. Your efforts are recorded on a weekly bar chart, so you can track your progress and amount of time spent working.
The app includes a to-do list so that you can jot down the tasks you need to do today or this week. What’s more, you can start a to-do item as a Pomorodo and it will count how many it takes to finish the task. You can look back and see the tasks done and the Pomorodo’s required to complete them. This is one of the best features of the app.
That’s all there is to the app and like all Pomodoro apps, it is super simple and is just a fancy timer. It works great and the only feature missing is an option to automatically start the next work or break period. You must manually start it.
This is another great Pomodoro app, but only if you buy the full version. The free one is quite irritating and this is because most of the configuration options are locked until you pay for the upgrade. I used the free version on an iPhone.
The home screen has the timer and this is easily adjustable by dragging left or right, so you can quickly make work sessions longer or shorter as required without digging into the settings screens. Sometimes a task you are doing might not be doable in 25 minutes, so the app makes it easy to set the timer.
Start it off and it audibly ticks as it counts down. This is standard Pomodoro technique and the idea is that it focuses your attention. However, I find it distracting and turn it off, but this is only possible in the full version of the app. In fact, around a dozen useful settings can only be changed in the full version. It is reasonably cheap though.
The app tracks the Pomodoros achieved each day and there are charts to show the last 14 days and last 30 days. Pomodoro Keeper works well, but it does not have an option to keep the screen on, probably because of the battery drain. I would like the choice to be mine though.
With this Pomodoro app, instead of a countdown timer, Flat Tomato shows the current time on an analogue clock, complete with second hand. Overlaid on this is the Pomodoro time periods and a countdown timer. This is more useful than the other apps’ timers because you can see on the clock what time you will finish.
Another useful feature is the task selection. Tap the letter at the bottom of the screen and you can select the task you are timing, such as working, studying, reading and so on. I couldn’t add extra tasks, so presumably that is in the full version and not the free one.
The task symbol is placed on the clock, so you can see what you did and when you did it. It records your achievements, but the calendar in the full version is needed to see weekly and monthly achievements.
Flat Tomato can be used with the screen on, which is useful because you can see the time, see how many minutes are remaining for the current period, when you will finish and so on. It automatically dims the screen after a minute or so to reduce the power usage.
The interface is unusual, but it works well and there are several clever features too, including the ability to record interruptions like phone calls. There is a lot I like in this app, but you do need to buy the upgrade to the full version to get the most out of it.
The winner is...
Among the free apps, Pomodoro Time has a good range of features and the fewest limitations. It has a small advertising bar at the bottom, but it does not get in the way. Flat Tomato is a very close second and some people might prefer it. It has a lovely design and some unusual features. All come with Today screen widgets so you can access the timer without having to find and run the app.
It is hard to choose the best from the paid full versions, all currently $1.99, and I would be happy with any of them.
Title: Pomorodo Time
Title: Pomodoro Keeper
Title: Flat Tomato
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 03 June 2015