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Ancient Italian Secret

February 10, 2011

You might be one plastic tomato away from getting your life in order. If you can get past the name, the Pomodoro Technique is one of the simplest time management techniques—and according to proponents—one of the most productive.

The system is built on the assumption that we waste time because we have too much of it. By working in short, timed bursts in which you’re not allowed to do a dang thing but work on what you’re working on, you can finally bring an adequate level of focus to your tasks to really make headway.

The technique was invented by an easily-distracted economics student at the University of Rome in the 1980s. He found that working in short, intense bursts (which he timed on a tomato-shaped kitchen timer) combined productivity with a sort of mental agility that comes from switching from work to rest.

Like every other get-productive-quick scheme, it has its adherents and detractors. But it seems to be working for its inventor Francesco Cirillo, who has found the time to run a couple software consulting firms, launch a foundation and hawk his plastic tomatoes at www.pomodorotechnique.com.

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