The Pomodoro Technique:
The Fastest, Easiest Way to Get Home School Kids (and Parents) More Productive --

Over 2,000,000 people use a tomoto like this one to become more productive!

We adopted the Pomodoro Technique into our home school because we wanted to get rid of mental clutter, end nonproductive days, cut down on too much stress, and dozens of other reasons.

Procrastination and distraction are NOT the habits we want to pass on to our kids. I'm sure you feel the same way.

If you've been looking for, or if you've been experimenting with, one time management tool after another and still haven't found a solution that allows you or your child to hit your stride, try the Pomodoro Technique.

I've tried, and tried to teach my kids, many different time/priority/organization/task/achievement management systems over the years.

Dozens exist, like the 60/60/30, the 33/33/33/33, GTD (getting things done), Franklin Covey time management system, mobile apps, and hundreds of others.

But the Pomodoro Technique is the simplest system out there. The one I should have started with first.

It's easy to follow and use, which means you'll do it, stick to it, and reap the productivity gains!

The 6 Simple Steps that Make up the Pomodoro Technique

  1. Pick a task you want to get done: It can be small. It can be school related, work related, even housework related. If it's a big task, break it down into smaller chunks.

    For example, writing a research paper - find research material, come up with three angles for the paper, create files and templates on the computer, write first outline, etc.

  2. Set the Pomodoro Timer for 25 minutes: Make a deal with yourself that you will drill down on your task for 25 minutes straight. You will stay focused and ignore interruptions for just 25 minutes.

  3. Work on your task until the timer rings (one 25-minute chunk is one Pomodoro): Get in the zone and stay in the zone. Keep going, keep moving toward your goal.

    If something unrelated pops into your head (i.e. I forgot to take out the trash) simply write it down on piece of paper and save it for later. Don't worry, it'll be there when you're ready.

  4. When the Pomodoro Timer rings, put a check mark on a paper: Pat yourself on the back. You just completed one Pomodoro -- you spent 25-minutes in the zone and moved closer to achieving your important goals.

  5. Take a quick break: take a physical and mental break for 5 minutes or less. Author Tom Hooybar says to change your posture and get out of your seat. If you're sitting, stand up. If you work on your feet, sit down.

    What we do at is sneak in quick house chores like taking out the trash, or put away the dishes, we even squeeze in some exercise like jumping jacks, or I grab a cup of coffee, stretch, and sometimes mediate.

    WARNING: Be careful about postponing your short break BY saying to yourself, "just one more minute," because it could turn into an hour!

  6. For every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break: About 20 to 30 minutes. Let yourself decompress from the work you're focusing on. Let your brain straighten itself out and recharge your mental and physical batteries for the next round of in the zone productivity.

    At we eat a snack or have lunch, the kids run around outside, sometimes I'll take a cat nap.

Rinse and repeat!

It's really this simple to take control of your life. Many other systems I've used become a chore, like counting calories. Not the Pomodoro time management technique. You do not get overwhelmed using it.

Why does this work and what are the additional benefits?

  • You get in and stay in the zone longer. One chunk at a time;

  • Some claim you're able to fix brain damage and rewire your brain from one that's addicted and controlled by distractions (checking email, peeking at your smartphone, turning into a YouTube zombie), by focusing on focusing;

  • ADD and ADHD can be alleviated when using Pomodoro!

  • Your brain works better when you give it boundaries, such as "focus on this for the next 25 minutes, then take a break."

  • It's easier to commit to shorter, focused work times;

  • Turn time from an enemy, into an ally;

  • You eliminate burn out. You must take ample breaks, both short and long, which helps keep up your energy and motivation;

  • You feel good and allow yourself to enjoy your downtime because you earned it. Especially when you see your check marks on your paper;

  • It's easier to put off and procrastinate on distractions like peeking at Facebook, checking email, or grabbing a snack because your work and rest times are part of the process. Most things can wait until after your current Pomodoro (25 minutes in-the-zone);

  • You can zoom straight at what's important by removing your head trash. Anything distracting that pops into your head, like, "I got to watch that cat video Jenny sent me," gets written down on paper for later;

  • Detours and speed bumps get smaller and smaller the more Pomodoro practice you get in, and the gains start almost immediately. They did for us;

  • You get rid of needless stress and anxiety.

What do you need to get started right now?

  • A timer
  • Your to do list
  • Paper and pen
  • The 6 steps written above

You do not need anything expensive or fancy.

You do NOT want the distraction of checking time. I tried using the stop watch on my ticking wristwatch once, big mistake. Choose a timer that keeps time and beeps when the time's up.

When I work at the computer, which is almost always, I use the online timer found here: 

The kids set the timer on their iPod. You can buy the wildly popular Pomodoro timer on Amazon. And when we first played around with this, we used the timer on the microwave. It did the job.

Your to do list:
Whatever it is you want to accomplish. It can be school related, work related, getting some housework done like cleaning out the shed; anything you want or need done.

I keep my projects and goals on a computer file. My kids just move from one lesson to the next in their books or online classes.

Pen and paper:
We turn our junk mail into scratch paper and use that to write down distracting thoughts that try to derail us when we're in the zone. Scratch paper is also perfect for writing your check marks for each Pomodoro completed. Simple.

What if you Want to Dive Deeper, and Why is it Called the Pomodoro Technique?

Productivity consultant Francesco Cirillo, an Italian, created this time management technique in the 1980s. To keep track of his time, he used a kitchen timer that came in the shape of a tomato. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

To learn more you can visit the official site:, or better yet, read the Pomodoro Technique Book written by Mr. Cirillo.

It provides detailed time management strategies, recommendations on how to manage your schedule, remove interruptions, and what to do when something or someone interrupts your Pomodoro session!

The book might be cheaper to buy through Amazon because you may be able to avoid the shipping charges from Europe. Learn more and buy it here.

It's nice to see our kids line up their assignments and knock them down one at a time by keeping track of their Pomodoros. By the time they enter their money earning careers they'll have a very strong habit for achieving their goals. Give it a try, you'll be amazed.

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