Why it’s time to ditch the Pomodoro Technique if you want to be productive


If you’re the type to collect productivity “hacks” then it’s likely you’ve come across the Pomodoro Technique before.

Designed as short work sprints with even shorter breaks in between, it's an alternative approach to working for longer stretches of time that often lead to burnout.

No doubt, tons of people have used the simplicity of the Pomodoro approach to overcome procrastination, self doubt, and an overwhelming to-do list. But just because it seems like everyone is using it as a productivity technique doesn’t mean it’s the end-all-be-all of productivity strategies.

In other words, you have options.

Below, we dive in deeper to learn about lesser known alternatives to the Pomodoro approach. But first, let’s get clear on the specifics of the Pomodoro technique and where it originated.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular time management strategy that has been used by many people to boost their productivity. The technique is based on the idea that by breaking down work into smaller chunks and taking regular breaks, you effectively manage your time and get more done.

The process involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and working on a task until the timer goes off. Once the timer goes off, you take a five-minute break. After four Pomodoros, you’re able to take a longer break.

Obviously, you don’t have to strictly adhere to the original parameters to see success with a Pomodoro technique. What’s important is that you stick with the overall framework as a way to pace yourself.

Who created the Pomodoro Technique and why?

Created by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique was named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used when he developed the technique in the 1980s.

After suffering from procrastination, Cirillo created the process to help him boost his productivity. He found that, by breaking down work into smaller chunks, he could focus on each task a lot better and get more done.

The Pomodoro Technique has since been popularized and used by tons of people to help them manage their time and boost their productivity. The Pomodoro Technique is helpful for some people, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone.

The main problem with the technique is that it doesn’t take into account the different ways that people work and learn.

For some people, the technique may not be very effective as it can be difficult to stay focused for 25 minutes at a time, particularly if you have a lot of distractions around you. Additionally, the technique relies on frequent breaks which can be hard to follow if you have a busy schedule or are working on a particularly difficult task. It may be helpful for some people, but it is not necessarily an effective solution for everyone.

The problem with the Pomodoro Technique

Much like any other productivity tool, the Pomodoro system can be just as much of a roadblock as it can be helpful. When you break down your work into small chunks, it can be tempting to put off starting the next task because it seems like it will be easy to complete. This can lead to a vicious cycle of procrastination, where you keep putting off your next sprint for later.

Another issue with the Pomodoro Technique is that — in some instances — it’s disruptive to your workflow. If you’re working on a task and the timer goes off, it can be jarring to have to stop what you are doing and take a break. This, in turn, disrupts your focus and makes it difficult to get back into a flow state.

The Pomodoro Technique can also be inflexible. If you are working on a task that is taking longer than expected, you may feel pressure to hurry up and finish so that you can take a break. This can lead to sloppy work and can decrease your overall productivity. While these might seem like minor inconveniences, the point is that even the best productivity “hack” can work against you if it doesn’t integrate well with how you naturally do your best work.

Alternatives to the Pomodoro Technique

Here’s a list of ideas — as well as how they work — that you can try in case the pomodoro system isn’t quite working for you.

1. The One Thing by Gary Keller

Learn to prioritize everything based on value. That’s essentially the idea behind Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing. What does it mean exactly?

Prioritizing your daily tasks based on which one will garner the most valuable outcome is a smart way to sort out your to-do list and organize your day — especially if it gets lengthy throughout the week.

To start prioritizing your tasks based on value, write a list of everything you need to do in a day. From there, aim to prioritize each task based on how impactful finishing them will be.

For example, if I’m deciding between sending a cold email to a subject matter expert or getting to the draft edits from a week ago, I’m going to prioritize and make sure I send that cold email. Why? The potential payoff is greater than getting to those edits on time.

In the same way, you can prioritize the rest of your daily tasks.

2. The Eisenhower Matrix

Use the Eisenhower Matrix to increase productivity. The Eisenhower Matrix — created by President Dwight Eisenhower himself — is a time management technique that helps you prioritize tasks and make better use of your time. It involves categorizing tasks into four quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
  • Quadrant 2: Important, but not urgent
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent, but not important
  • Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important

The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity tool that helps you prioritize goals and tasks. The basic idea includes identifying the goals and tasks that are most important and urgent, and then focus on completing those first.

This exercise helps you focus better on the goals that are most important without getting bogged down by lesser goals.

3. The ABC Method

The ABC Method is a productivity tool that can help people to prioritize their goals and tasks. The basic idea behind the ABC Method is that people should identify the:

  • A goals: Which are the most important goals that must be achieved
  • B goals: These are the goals that are important but not as urgent as the A goals
  • C goals: These goals that are less important and can be completed at a later time.

If you don’t have a set framework through which to visualize your goals or tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up getting nothing done. As simple as the ABC method is, it can work depending on how you like to structure your day.

4. The Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal Method — a system created by Ryder Carroll for organizing, planning, and tracking goals and tasks — is yet another common way to organize your day in a way that’s intentional and easy to track.

The classic pen and paper system is also designed to be flexible, so that users easily adapt it to their own needs and preferences. But how does it work?

Here’s a quick step-by-step overview:

  1. Gather and organize your materials. You will need a notebook, pens or pencils.
  2. Set up your index. This is where you will keep track of all the topics and tasks you will be writing about throughout your journal.
  3. Create your monthly log. In this part, you will write down all the tasks and events you have coming up each month.
  4. Set up a weekly log. Each week, you will create a new page and write down tasks and events that need to be completed that week. This can also be used to track progress.

Create habit trackers. You can create habit trackers for daily and weekly habits. This will help you stay motivated and keep track of progress

Create a goal page. This page is where you can write down all your future goals and activities that you want to complete

Track progress. Each day, you can write down tasks that you want to complete and track your progress. This allows you to focus on completing tasks and setting new goals

Write down notes. Throughout the journal, you can write down notes and ideas that you may want to revisit in the future.

Review and reconfigure your system. Every few weeks, you should review and reconfigure your system to make sure it is still working for you and helping you stay organized and productive.

Learn more here about how to make the Bullet Journal method most effective for your unique productivity goals.

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5. The “Zeigarnik Effect”

The Zeigarnik Effect is a phenomenon whereby unfinished tasks tend to stick in a person's mind, and this can actually lead to increased motivation to complete the task. In other words, the Zeigarnik Effect helps people to become more productive by making sure that unfinished tasks are constantly "on their mind."

This can be a useful tool for people who are trying to improve their productivity, as it can help them to better focus on their goals and make sure that they are always working towards completing them.

Working with this effect can be as simple as finishing a task up until the very last part. Leaving and then coming back to finish it increases the chances that you won’t only finish the task, but that with momentum, you’ll naturally want to get started on the next one.

6. The Daily Digital Planner

Sunsama is a daily planner app that helps people to become more organized and productive. The app provides users with a daily schedule, and they can use the app to track their progress towards their goals.

The app also allows users to set reminders for themselves, and they can use the app to plan their week in advance. The main benefits of using Sunsama are that it can help users to become more organized and productive.

And it also helps them to better track their progress towards your biggest goals.

7. An accountability partner

Studies have shown that having an accountability partner increases productivity and helps keep you focused on the tasks at hand. Having an accountability partner helps to set deadlines and expectations, as well as provide feedback and support on tasks.

Sometimes working through your tasks alone is isolating. But if you find an accountability partner that works on similar tasks or even in your same industry, it does a lot in keeping you motivated, focused, and energized.

Do more with tools like Sunsama

The Pomodoro Technique can be an effective way to boost productivity, but it isn’t without its drawbacks. If you find that the technique is leading to more procrastination or disrupting your workflow, it may be time to ditch it.

Sunsama is a solid alternative for planning and organizing your daily and weekly tasks. It provides all the features you need to plan, manage and complete your tasks in an efficient and systematic way.

Its simple and intuitive interface allows you to quickly view and prioritize tasks, track progress, and even time track tasks that take longer as you go. But it’s hard to know what you’re missing if you’ve never tried it.

Claim your free access to Sunsama here.

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