All of us procrastinate when we are faced with an unpleasant task. There are lots of distractors out there, mostly of the social media kind.  And if it puts off the “pain” just a little while longer, we’ll lose ourselves in reddit or Pinterest and pretend that the essay doesn’t have a due date.

Well, here’s a strategy that may work for you.  It’s called Pomodoro.  It was developed by a graduate student who needed to power through his thesis and used a kitchen timer to help him.

He used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (hence, the name “pomodoro”). He set it for 25 minutes (the maximum), and worked solidly for the entire time. When the timer signaled the end of the 25 minutes with a very satisfying “ding!”, the student got a rush of serotonin. He took a 5 minute break, and then set the timer again.

Here’s his basic process:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Work until the timer rings.  Put a check mark on your project.
  4. Take a 5 minute break.
  5. For every 4 Pomodoros, take a 20 minute break.

Some tips:

  • You can use any kitchen timer, or timer on your phone or laptop.  The Pomodoro method has turned into a business, so you can buy a tomato-shaped timer or a specific timer app.
  • if you get distracted during your Pomodoro session by a random thought, write the thought down, and return to your task.  The thought isn’t forgotten, but it isn’t taking over, either.
  • use your 5 minute break however you like, but keep it to 5 minutes.  The best idea is to get some fresh air and a drink of water.

You can find out more about the Pomodoro method here: