28 Jun, 2018
The Best Pomodoro Timer Apps to Boost Your Productivity
Working all the time is an awful idea. You can only cram for so long before you hit a wall, unable to do anything else. Yes, brief water and lunch breaks can help, but it’s still far too easy to sit and work for hours without moving around—something that’s quickly being recognized as a serious health risk.
With your productivity and health at stake, it’s worth making an effort to split up your work day. Pomodoro Technique apps can help: They’re timers that remind you to take a break once every 25 minutes. Here’s a quick dive into the Pomodoro Technique, along with a dozen of the best Pomodoro timer apps to help you get started.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
In college, final exam season prompts a two-week-long cram session. Everyone has their own tales of studying all night, downing dangerous levels of caffeine, and rubbing their eyes at lecture notes. But after a while, extra studying doesn’t really help; you’re reading the same material, but your brain is so zapped that you won’t retain anything.
That’s what Francesco Cirillo discovered during his first year of university. After realizing he was getting distracted and not using his study time efficiently, he grabbed a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes, and tried working solidly for those 10 minutes without doing anything else. And it worked—forcing himself to focus before rewarding himself with a break helped him get more done, even with the break time.
With more testing and tweaking, Cirillo settled on a structured framework for what he called the Pomodoro Technique (named after the Italian word for «tomato," in reference to his original kitchen timer). The final technique is just about as simple as his original idea: you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks (usually 25 minutes) separated by a 5-minute break. After 4 consecutive working time blocks, take a longer break, around 15 or 20 minutes.
Each 25-minute work block is called a «Pomodoro.» If you feel the urge to do something other than work during a work period, make a note of it. Over time, you’ll train yourself to be more productive during each Pomodoro block.
The benefits of the Pomodoro Technique come from the frequent breaks, which help your mind stay fresh. The focused time blocks also force you to adhere to fixed limits, so you’ll be encouraged to complete a task more quickly, or in the case of a large task, spread it out over a number of Pomodoros.
The length of working and break times can vary depending on what you prefer, but the process remains the same:
- Start a timer
- Work until the timer rings
- Take a short break
- Every 4 Pomodoro (work periods) take a longer break
If the Pomodoro Technique sounds like something you’d like to try, or if you’re just tired of using an old-fashioned kitchen timer, here is a list of our favorite Pomodoro-friendly timers to check out.
The Best Pomodoro Timer Apps
1. Focus Booster. The time tracker offers everything you’d expect from a simple Pomodoro timer and then some. It provides sliders for you to fine-tune the length of your own focus periods and break times, as well as the ability to track your time and run reports to view your progress. The Pro version also offers you the ability to set up clients, so you can automatically track time spent on a client’s projects and tasks.
2. PomoDone. You can add PomoDone to your favorite tools, such as Trello, Wunderlist, Asana, Basecamp, and Todoist, or you can use the timer on its own. Once you set it up, PomoDone will import all your tasks from any connected apps, or you can create new tasks as you start timers.
3. Pomodoro Keeper. Great mobile timer option for Apple users. Itr sports a clean interface that’s reminiscent of the traditional egg timer you probably have in your kitchen.
4. Marinara Timer. This web-based timer doesn’t even require a signup. The timer was built by the team at 352 Inc. and comes in three flavors: Pomodoro, Custom, and Kitchen.
5. Pomodoro Time Pro has apps for all of your Apple devices, and better yet, they all synchronize with each other. Each app is beautifully designed and tracks your Pomodoro against your daily target.
Alternative Pomodoro Apps
6. ClearFocus. One of the favorites in the Android community, ClearFocus allows you to customize your timer length as needed and even use the timer from your homepage as a widget. It also allows you to tag your timers so you can easily see what you were working on when you review the statistics page.
7. Kanban Flow. For those looking to combine lean project management with the Pomodoro technique, Kanban Flow is a Kanban board with Pomodoro timer built in. They don’t offer any mobile apps, but the site itself works pretty well with your phone.
8. e.ggtimer.com is a super simple solution for those who don’t want to sign up for an account. The website includes a few pre-built timers for waking up, brushing teeth, and of course, Pomodoro.
9. Clockwork Tomato provides a fully configurable timer with custom colors, sounds, and many other options. It also includes great looking timer widget. Add the expansion to include task lists and activity logs for your projects to track time spent working.
10. Push by Zapier has two internal tools, Push and Delay, that can be used together to create a simple Pomodoro timer as a Chrome extension. When time’s up, have Zapier send you a notification with Pushover, Slack, or anything else you want. You can even add a Google Sheets step to log each time you use the timer.
11. Tomighty is a desktop Pomodoro timer that gives you easy access to your timer via the task bar. The timer tracks how many Pomodoros you’ve gone through, but doesn’t start the break timer automatically. Nonetheless, a good option for a simple desktop timer.