Teaching Today's Students, Tips on Teaching

Using the Pomodoro Technique to Help You and Your Students Be More Productive

Pomodoro Techniqueby Chris Grabau, Instructional Developer, Reinert Center

The Pomodoro Technique can be a useful approach to help dedicate time and energy to a specific task.  Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s, the technique has become a popular method to set goals, boost productivity, and improve concentration.

Named after Cirillo’s tomato shaped timer, the technique involves working in 25-minute intervals (or pomodoros), followed a 5 minute break. After the break, participants start another 25 minute pomodoro.  After 4 pomodoros are complete, a person takes a longer, 20-minute break.

Another key aspect to the Pomodoro Technique is keeping record of the the amount of pomodoros done to complete a specific task.   Cirillo states keeping inventory provides an “objective metric” that helps identify what activities need to take priority and what activities can be amended, combined, or eliminated (2009).

For faculty, the Pomodoro Technique can be a useful time management tool to help balance the amount of time spent on each students’ work.  Using the technique can help faculty prioritize feedback on assignments and prevent grading “burn-out.”

As self-regulated learning becomes a bigger focus to help today’s learners (Goleman, 2006; Nilson, 2013; Tough, 2012; Zimmerman, 2002), faculty can incorporate the technique into class assignments.  Students can record the amount of pomodoros needed to complete class assignments in order to assess their writing and studying habits.   The process can help students with goal setting and self-monitoring as well as help students develop useful time management skills.

Over the last couple of years, I have found the technique helpful to help prepare for comprehensive exams, write research articles, and to remain mindful of how much time I am staring at a computer screen.

Although the Pomodoro Technique has been discussed on many websites and “lifehack” blogs, there has been a rapid growth in the amount of apps and tools devoted to the approach.  While I prefer to simply use the timer on my iPhone, below are a few examples that are free, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing:


For iPhone:

Flat Tomato – Time Management:


For Android:

Clear Focus – A Pomodoro Timer:


For Apple OS:

Add a Pomodoro time to the taskbar on your computer: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/activity-timer-pomodoro-edition/id882713754?mt=12