Does Promodoro Technique Work? (Any Better Options?)

Does the Promodoro Technique actually work? Does it really make you more productive? 

Here’s what I’ve found: It might be a good technique, but it’s certainly not the most effective one out there! It works for some people, while others may be better off using something else.

After testing it out myself, researching about it through different sources, and talking with my mentors, I’ve realized there’s something better that’s more effective than the Promodoro technique.

You’ll learn about it later in the article. First, let’s understand the Promodoro technique in more detail.

What is the Promodoro Technique?

It’s a time management technique where you spend 25 minutes with complete focus on the task at hand and, after that, take a 5 minute break. Francesco Cirillo developed it in 1980. 

Promodoro Technqiue Visually Explained!

Since then, it has only gained popularity to become a productivity buzzword! 

It works on the principle of creating a sense of urgency while you are working on the task.

Imagine tomorrow someone points a gun at your forehead and asks you to send that goddam email to your boss or client in the next 20 minutes, for which you otherwise would spend hours perfecting.

You’d be forced to be resourceful, think quickly in order not to get your head blown away. 

That’s the very same principle Promodoro technique works on. Once the timer hits 25 minutes, your time is up.

For whom is the Promodoro technique most effective?

In particular, there are 3 scenarios:

  1. This technique is most effective for people who struggle to concentrate on tasks for an extended period of time or feel the need to be rewarded with a break after working for some time. 

For them, 25 minutes is long enough to keep them focussed and short enough to match their need for a break

  1. If you are a new to productivity hacks, this technique might be the best one to start with. 

It’s easy to implement and might work well in the early periods. 

  1. It’s highly effective against routine tasks, which don’t require too much thinking. 

Tasks like checking your inbox, sending instructions to your team fall under this category.

The following Drake meme perfectly illustrates how my relationship with Promodoro Technique is.

Effectiveness of Promodoro Technique explained with the help of Drake's meme!

Which Apps Can I Use For Promodoro Technique?

From the list of all different productivity apps, I use e.gg.timer.com, which is a powerful online timer. I wholeheartedly recommend it! 

Currently, I am writing this article using it (although I’m not using the Pomodoro technique!).

The Problem with the Promodoro technique

Imagine you’re given a task that will take somewhere around 35-40 minutes to complete. 

In that case, would you still take a break after the 25-minute mark or push through and complete the task?

It makes more sense to complete the task before taking a break.

Another problem is when you have to do creative work

For example, 25 minutes is very little time to get any creative juices flowing. Often, you might need the first 10 minutes just to fire up your brain. 

Will you stop the project midway at 25 minutes to take a break? This will break your train of thought. Not great if you’re a creative person!

I remember my mentor telling me why he doesn’t use the Promodoro technique. 

It takes humans around 15-20 minutes to get into a flow state or the ‘zone,’ a magical state where your productivity shoots up like a rocket! 

Here you get things done faster!

Now imagine spending the first 15 to 25 minutes to get into this state, only to stop working on the task when the timer buzzes.

Not a smart choice at all!

Is there anything better?

There is 🙂

To understand that, here are 2 questions you need to find an answer for:

1. How long can you concentrate?

I came across an interesting video where the creator talks about finding our ideal productive time. This is the time you can sustain your concentration for. It differs from person to person.

Some might focus on one task for 20 minutes, while others might focus on the same task for 50 minutes.

Once we find our ideal working time, we should calculate how much break time we need.

2. How much break time do you need?

As you’ll learn from the video, the creator recommends taking 1/3rd – 1/4th of the amount you spend working as a break

So for a 1 hour, a 15-20 minute break would be ideal. 

Similarly, if you can focus on a task for only 30 minutes,  then you’ll need around 10 minutes of break.

You can’t expect to put in an hour of work and have only 5 minutes of downtime. Most people think like this, but please don’t fall for it.

The longer you work, the more break time your body will need until it’s ready to jump into the next task.

Not giving enough time prevents recovery, thus reducing your energy for the remaining tasks.

And let me emphasize that it’s essential to spend your break time the right way. 

Social media doesn’t count! 

Mediation, going outside to have a fresh breath of air can be more useful!

Moving on, let’s take this new approach of ideal time a step further.

Test Out and Collect Data!

Some people might need more than one-third amount of break. It’s completely okay.

I know people who need 50% break time after every intensive work session.  Different things work for different people, so you can only create a productivity technique by testing your systems.

Tweak and test what works the best for you. We will talk about it in a future article.

What Can You Do Next?

The Promodoro technique might help you improve your productivity, but it’s not the most effective one out there.

At the same time, it’s much better than having no system in place. 

So, if you’re a beginner or want to maximize your efficiency on tasks that require little thinking skills, please start with this one.

For more demanding tasks that require your creative juices, you might be better off using a more personalized technique of work and recovery

What technique do you use to keep yourself productive? Please comment below. I’d love to hear you out!

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