What's wrong with Pomodoro?

Harness your productivity with uninterrupted work sessions guided by your natural flow state

Bálint Gáspár

6/3/20232 min read

I've always been a fan of using timers for my learning sessions. It was a simple and effective way to stay focused. I used to set a 60-minute timer and made a rule for myself to not get up until it went off. This technique is known as the Pomodoro Technique, where you work in 20-minute intervals.

But here's the thing, I started noticing a problem with this approach. By limiting myself to both a minimum and maximum time for learning, I found myself cutting off sessions even when I was in the flow state. It felt counterintuitive, like something was off with the technique.

I realized I needed new rules. The key difference between a timer and a stopwatch is that the latter is unlimited. If you're lucky enough to enter a state of flow by the end of your study session, you forget about the time, and there's no timer reminding you to stop. If we want to be more productive, we should spend more time in the flow state, fully engaged in the activity we're doing. However, it's also important to set a minimum threshold for ourselves. So, I decided to experiment. On a typical day, my plan was to work for four sessions of 60 minutes each and two sessions of 30 minutes. (as you see right on the illustration) The results were remarkable! I achieved almost 1 entire hour increase in productivity with this little trick. Plus, it looked so much better on my screen! 😄

Here's my rule: I'm allowed to glance at the stopwatch only twice during a 60-minute interval to check how long I've been learning. If I use up both of my glances, I can say with reasonable accuracy when the time is up. However, if I find myself frequently checking the stopwatch, it's a sign that I'm not fully engaged in the process, and it's better to take a break.

Of course, you can set your own rules based on your preferences and goals. The idea is to make the learning process more playful and effective at the same time.

Give it a try and see how it works for you! 😉✌️