In college, final exam season prompts a two-week-long cram session. Everyone has their own tales of studying all night, downing dangerous levels of caffeine, and rubbing their eyes at lecture notes. But after a while, extra studying doesn't really help; you're reading the same material, but your brain is so zapped that you won't retain anything.
That's what Francesco Cirillo discovered during his first year of university. After realizing he was getting distracted and not using his study time efficiently, he grabbed a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes, and tried working solidly for those 10 minutes without doing anything else. And it worked—forcing himself to focus before rewarding himself with a break helped him get more done, even with the break time.
With more testing and tweaking, Cirillo settled on a structured framework for what he called the Pomodoro Technique (named after the Italian word for "tomato," in reference to his original kitchen timer). The final technique is just about as simple as his original idea: you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks (usually 25 minutes) separated by a 5-minute break. After 4 consecutive working time blocks, take a longer break, around 15 or 20 minutes.
Each 25-minute work block is called a "Pomodoro." If you feel the urge to do something other than work during a work period, make a note of it. Over time, you’ll train yourself to be more productive during each Pomodoro block.
The benefits of the Pomodoro Technique come from the frequent breaks, which help your mind stay fresh. The focused time blocks also force you to adhere to fixed limits, so you’ll be encouraged to complete a task more quickly, or in the case of a large task, spread it out over a number of Pomodoros.