The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo


I heard about THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE from friends and was eager to try it myself, so I started with Cirillo’s website, and then decided to buy the book. I should have stopped with the website. After struggling through the ebook’s atrocious formatting (which made the book nearly unreadable) I felt like I’d done the one thing Cirillo would not want me to do. I’d wasted my time.

THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE is absurdly simple, but I was willing to go along because sometimes the simple things work the best. It starts with a wind-up kitchen timer. Cirillo’s is shaped like a tomato–pomodoro in his native Italian. The user sets it for 25 minutes and works without interruption for that time. When the timer rings, he takes a short break and then the cycle repeats. At every cycle, the user records how he spent his time. Whatever we focus on and measure, we improve, and the goal is to “take control” of time.

Cirillo came up with the pomodoro technique in college, and it seems as if it would work well for students. When studying, 25-minute blocks with five minute breaks between them is a good way to learn new material. With all the distractions students have, a reminder to stay on task isn’t a bad thing. However, I doubt the method would work for writers. Creative people enjoy their work, and don’t need a kitchen timer to sit for long periods of time. Worse, a loud, ringing interruption every 25 minutes wrecks creative flow.

That said, my problem isn’t really with the method. My problem is with the book. I suppose THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE works as well as any other time management plan. That is, it works great for some, not so great for others. However, it’s ridiculous to pad a pamphlet’s worth of information into a full-length book when the entire method can be summed up in three sentences:

  1. Work for 25-minute blocks
  2. Take breaks between them
  3. Track your time in order to improve

There. I just saved you seven bucks, because the rest of the book is filler. More importantly, I saved you two hours of time, enough for a nice long block of creative work.


THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE can be found here.


rating: 2 stars


This book is best for: beginning writers


I recommend Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews or Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy instead of this book.

4 thoughts on “The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

  1. “pad”

    You saved more than time here. Padding is the greatest sin of writers, and a dreadful time-suck.

    A fancy cover and a clever title do not inspiration make.

    Thank you for the save. I think henceforth thou shalt be thought of as, “goalie!”


  2. I looked at this back in the day and thought the same thing: a whole book on this? I glanced through a friend’s copy and came to the same conclusion: waste of time for something that is brilliant in its simplicity.

    I do wish to add that while for me not optimal, I do most of my writing in FIFTEEN minutes at the moment due to the baby 🙂 I’ve gotten really good at it, and I’m learning to train the baby to ‘wait’ as I write for a few minutes more. I even prefer these short chunks when I’m in the ‘I don’t wanna write’ periods — it’s only a short time, so suck it up! Once I hit momentum, I do wish I had longer blocks, but it works.

    For people who are interested in writing in short bursts, I recommend two sources:

    Via twitter, the hastag #BAMFwordbattle . Created by authors Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Maas, these are shout outs to write as much as you can in 30 minutes. After, for fifteen, you take a break. Then there’s another spurt.

    If alone, I recommend – Write or Die is a $10 ap/program where you put in your time and/or word goal, and write. There’s different settings for how strict you want to be. If you stop writing with Gentle, you get a kind message reminding you to get your butt in gear. In Kamikazi, words get erased until you start writing again. Yikes!

    I personally use Write Or Die often, especially if I’m in a clunky spot. It’s enough of a disciplinary tool to get me going, and I can do feasible time chunks.

    • Thanks for your comment, Amity! It brings up a good point. All different kinds of time-management tricks work for different people. We should try everything until we see what works for us.

      The Pomodoro Technique has its fans, and that’s okay, but I got the gist of it from the website and feel my time reading the book was wasted.

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