The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo
Francesco Cirillo reminds me of a really strict teacher. He has a very particular, inflexible way of doing things and expects everyone to follow. In essence, my way or the highway.
I never really liked teachers like that, so I wasn’t crazy about this book. But, I do like the Pomodoro Technique as a method for time management. FYI: One Pomodoro is equal to 25 minutes of work and a 2-3 minute break afterwards.
I didn’t like that Cirillo had so many strict rules. For example,
A Pomodoro is indivisible. If a Pomodoro is interrupted by someone or something, that Pomodoro should be considered void, as if it had never been set; then you should make a fresh start with a new Pomodoro.
If I desperately need to get a drink of water or use the bathroom quickly, I think I should be able to do so quickly then resume my Pomodoro when I get back to my desk. On the other hand, I also recognize that a Pomodoro is supposed to be deep work with deep focus, and if you interrupt said focus – then the whole thing is moot. However, Cirillo dictates that you should make note of how many Pomodoros it takes to complete a task, but if you’re constantly voiding Pomodoros then that direction doesn’t really work anymore.
With all that being said, I do think some of the rules in the book are useful. For example, the “If it takes more than five to seven Pomodoros, break it down” rule is quite helpful. An application of this is writing an essay for example. Chances are writing a proper 5 page essay will take you longer than 2 hours. For me, it tends to take a cumulative 4 hours. This definitely exceeds the 5-7 Pomodoros. Cirillo would advise you to break writing an essay into subtasks
- find sources
- make notecards
- make an outline
- write body paragraphs
- write introduction and conclusion
Another tip I liked was about dealing with distractions. Cirillo suggested that when a thought pops into your mind or someone asks you to do something in the middle of your Pomodoro, you should write down that task if it isn’t urgent and decide when your Pomodoro is complete how and when you’ll approach that task. If the task is urgent, then deal with it immediately.
Overall, I feel like the advice given in this book is pretty rudimentary. It’s just feels like common sense. Here’s what you need to know:
A Pomodoro is a 25 minute time block followed by a 2-5 minute break.
After 4 Pomodoros, you take an extended break for 10-25 minutes.
4 Pomodoros is called a cycle.
Lastly, the book tackles how to use Pomodoro Technique in a workplace environment. This is the part of the book I felt the most skeptical about. First, some background: I don’t think of the Pomodoro Technique everyone needs to use. I think it’s the most helpful for people who procrastinate or need to find a way to think about and manage their time. Pomodoros are great for that. If you don’t fall into one of those broad categories, then I think the Pomodoro Technique won’t really make your life materially much better. In groups, I think it’s impossible and unnecessary to implement the Pomodoro system. In the book, Cirillo suggests in groups of 2, people in that group should work on the exact same Pomodoro – starting and ending at the same time. If you’re ever had the unique displeasure of working on a group project, you can recognize just how terrible this idea is.
The Final Verdict
Please don’t waste your money on this book it is truly not worth it. Everything said that is worthwhile in this book is summarized here. If you must read this book, rent it from your library. It certainly isn’t worth the $18 Barnes and Noble is charging for it.
Good luck managing your time! (Lord knows I need it.)