Pomodoro Technique

I know this isn’t QA specific, but I wanted to share something that I haven’t done in years, and that’s now having good results. Just after writing how being disorganized and unfocused can be an advantage to testers, I decided to try out the Pomodoro Technique again.

If you’ve never heard of it, the Pomodoro Technique is a way to break up a day’s work into short timespans. Normally this is 25 minutes, and ideally, you’d pick tasks that can be completed in that time. Each block of time is called a Pomodoro. After you finish a Pomodoro, you get a short 5 minute break. Every four Pomodoros, you get a longer break–30 minutes.

It’s admittedly a productivity hack, and the reason it works is because there’s a mental shift that happens, when you commit to focusing on something for just 25 minutes. If otherwise you might think you have to spend the whole day just “doing stuff”, maybe you won’t be as effective.

I know I’m not, so that’s why I’m trying it. Crutches can be very helpful, even if you realize that’s what they are 🙂

There’s an app that I’m trying, called Pomodroido. It’s working really well–it’s very configurable in ways such as how to let you know when your time’s up, and how long to have the Pomodoros, short breaks and long breaks last. You can fine-tune the app to get you to focus for longer (or shorter) periods, whichever works best for you.

Plus, you can see how many Pomodoros have been completed today, and this week, which is helpful for the built-in progress system, that gives you a title as you complete more Pomodoros (right now I’m a “Beginner”). The per-day/per-week tracking lets you benchmark how many Pomodoros you’re completing, so you can set your own goals. Maybe you want to try 25 per week, or 10 per day? That’s possible with this app.

If you find your mind wandering and want to see if you can increase your focus, I’d recommend this app, or a similar one. It’s been a very helpful tool to me, one which I’m already seeing an increase in productivity with, and so I wanted to share it with you.

And: If you start using something like this (or already are), can you share what you think? How well does it work for you? What do you like or dislike about it? What are the technique’s shortcomings? I’m interested in hearing what you think.


2 thoughts on “Pomodoro Technique

  1. Hi! Funny to read your blog post, cause just yesterday I told my colleagues about the pomodoro method. I used it 6 years ago for making me to stand up and move. Lately remembered and wanted to set up for its original purpose. Can you please give an example how it works for you during testing? And how you deal with phone calls and colleagues visits in your office?


    1. Sure, here are some examples:

      – I find tasks that would fit into one Pomodoro. For testing, it’s more like, “what part of the system am I targeting for that timespan, and what types of tests am I going to do?” When there’s a loose plan that I would get done in 25 minutes, that’s what I go do. The 5 minute break helps with taking time to find what should be tested next. If I see something interesting that would take me down a rabbit trail, I probably would pursue it because I know myself 🙂 But ideally, if something would take us off course, jot down a note about it, and come back to it, maybe even with the next Pomodoro.

      – What a company uses for communication can help let people know you’re busy. A pairing I see a lot is Outlook for email and Skype for chat. They’re tied together, so if you set up a meeting for yourself to block off 4 Pomodoros worth of time, you’ll show up as “Busy” in Skype, which lets people know that hey, you might not respond to a chat message right away if they contact you. And for most any tool used, there’s a way to not have stuff blinking in your face when they send something, so configure accordingly.

      – Set up a block of time for communication. Go through all the emails, messages, texts, whatevers, and deal with them in one shot. Outside of the Pomodoro Technique, this is a good idea, but if you do it during a Pomodoro, it’ll train you to be brief (but not terse!) and effective at communication.

      – If a colleague really -really- needs to stop by, or an important phone call comes in, then I guess we have to count that as a distraction unfortunately. Things happen. But we also can let people know ahead of time that we’re trying this technique, and to expect that we might not be as readily available. Maybe wear some kind of loud hat or put something on your desk during a Pomodoro so they have a visual cue. Let them know also how it’s working out for you–they might want to try it too!


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