How a Tomato Changed My Life


A week ago a message appeared from the Heaven’s (aka The Passive Voice) in my Inbox about The Pomodoro Technique, and lo, it changed my life. I hadn’t heard of The Pomodoro Technique before, but I love homemade tomato sauce,  so I read more.

Much to my disappointment, instead of a zesty combination of tomatoes and garlic (which I include a link to, in case you share my preconceptions about pomodoros), I found a so-called “life-hack.”

I’m old. I had to look up what a “life-hack” was. I thought it might be a fatal pneumonia.

OK, so I was totally wrong, not afraid to admit it. Here’s the gist of this quick, easy, and yes, life-altering time-management technique to improve your life (why couldn’t they just say that?):

  1. Decide what you want to accomplish
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  3. Work, uninterrupted, until the timer stops
  4. Chart your progress.  Congratulations, you’ve completed a “tomato”.
  5. Repeat. Take a longer break after 4 or 5 tomatoes.

Since implementing the Technique of the Tomato, writer Ryan Casey asserts,

“my daily wordcount has doubled, and I feel refreshed and a sense of achievement.”

This is an impressive claim: He was writing 1,500 to 2,000 words a day to begin with in less than an hour and a half. He now writes 5,000 a day, with the addition of some other helpful strategies such as white noise (I’ve started using this—it’s magic), a writing tracker, and the Freedom app to deny him access to the Internet (I just ignore the Internet; like I said, I’m old).

The Pomodoro Technique may not be for everyone. ADHD coaches use it to support clients who need help plowing through work that is boring, hard, or both; it appears to be a useful way to combat procrastination:

If there is something that really must be done, and you can’t outsource it, and you can’t bribe your brother or your spouse to do it, the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to commit 25 minutes of your time to that boring task—and to allow nothing else to come between you and that task.

In contrast, writing is rarely a boring task for me. However, I’ve still benefited from the technique because I have a hard time remembering to take breaks, even after my creative energy has taken a nose dive for the couch.

P.S. It is impossible to write about the Pomodoro Technique without mentioning that it was named after the kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. Q.E.D.

P.P.S. For tracking your tomatoes (not, sadly, your garden yield-because mine has been prolific this year-but your blocks of time), there is a cute, free website


One thought on “How a Tomato Changed My Life

  1. Thanks! Had read about the pomodoro technique a while back, but hadn’t managed to find this wonderfully elegant and simple solution. The “timer sound” is a particularly nice touch (and one that I didn’t “get” until I turned it on. It’s much less annoying than I was afraid it would be, and does a great job of reminding me that I’m “on the clock.”

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