Viva il Pomodoro!

June 9, 2021

When is a tomato not a tomato?

When it is a timer!

The “Pomodoro” method of time management has been kicking around for several years. Developed by Francesco Cirillo, who was inspired by a red, tomato-shaped timer (“pomodoro” is “tomato” in Italian), it’s basically “slicing” your productive/creative times into 25 minute segments of focused work, followed by five minute breaks. You re-set the timer and repeat as many times as you like (or need for your project), remembering to take one longer break after every four Pomodoros.

I found out that 25 minutes is apparently an optimum chunk of time for full concentration, which makes sense to me—my mind begins wandering off 25 minutes into a movie, or a church service, or even a conversation! Those little five minute breaks (enough for a drink of water) are sufficient to refresh and regroup for the next round of tasks.

After learning about this nifty technique, I of course put it right out of my head until the other day, when I noticed that Ya-Jhu had purchased one for Aiden. I oohed and aahed, and she promptly gave it to me (not to worry, she’d bought a spare).

So now I have a glistening ruby red timer ticking away on my desk. My maiden Pomodoro voyage was during a session of an online writing group I joined recently, The London Writers Salon. The LWS (which is indeed UK based) is an online space for writers to gather and spend 50 minutes silently working on their own projects. I have loved it (it’s on Zoom, and we keep our cameras on for accountability); just knowing I’m in the (quiet) company of at least 120 writers from around the world is really inspiring.

I am not exactly a Math Whiz, but even I could figure out that the LWS sessions are exactly two Pomodoros long. I try to choose “bite-sized” activities (a blog post, a meditation for church) that I can polish off in that time period. It’s often a race against the clock so get it done before the bell rings, but so far I’ve been successful.

I am determined to see this experiment through (unlike my “Best Self” daily journal that I update only sporadically, so I guess I’m not really my “Best Self” after all, or setting the alarm on my phone for an hour and then totally forgetting why I set the darned thing). The whimsical shape of my little timer keeps me from taking it all too seriously, but the relentless ticking reminds me that I have a job to do and 25 minutes to do it. Plus “pomodoro” gets me reminiscing fondly about our trip to Italy a few years ago. That food! Did I ever tell you about the incredible seafood dinner we had in Venice? In that adorable trattoria in that little square?

Oops! Off track, perhaps, but I hit my 500 words so I pronounce this post complete!  And with five minutes to spare!








    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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