As an ADHD Coach, I often include this technique as part of comprehensive Time Management skillset-building. It seems almost tailor-made for ADHD brain wiring. A lot of us tend to process in short focused blasts, interspersed with periods of rest (or spacing out, avoidance, inattention, or distraction ;-). There are skills we can learn to lengthen the amount of time we can pay attention, but this method is good to go right now, and it’s easy structure, adjustable to your own attentional abilities.
Another important benefit- the technique fits in well with other necessary time management skills like breaking down tasks into subtasks, prioritizing tasks, and time estimation. It helps you do your work, whereas other skills are more for organizing your work.
The Pomodoro Method (the word “Pomodoro” is Italian for tomato- the method is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer) is a timing system that employs cycles of work and break periods, the standard being 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break. It’s this simple:
- Pick a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, and start to work on the task
- When the alarm goes off, take a 5 minute or so break
- After 4 “Pomodoros”, take a longer break
- There are quite a few smart phone apps designed to work with this method- I suggest getting one (I've listed some below). With the right app, we can adjust the work/break times.
- If we have set a task that’s tougher than usual to focus on, then we can adjust for that. I conducted a coaching session this week with a client who decided that for a certain task, he would set the app for 15 minutes on, 15 minutes break. There is no right or wrong, though I did advise my client that when allowing a 15 minute break, he may need to structure or re-adjust his longer break times as needed to avoid getting pulled away too long.
- Track the number of Pomodoros you complete. Part of effective ADHD management involves tracking our “wins” and successes- the app will do it for you (“I did 5 Pomodoros today!”)
iPhone Focus Time($4.99), Focus Keeper (free, but the $1.99 version has the needed adjustability), Pomodoro ($.99) and many more
Android (I've read about but not tested the Android apps) Clockwork Tomato, Pomodroido, Pomodoro Challenge (all free), and of course many more
I hope this technique helps you- please feel free to contact me about your experiences using it. FYI, there’s an excellent Pomodoro Technique Primer on Lifehacker that’s worth a read.