Being productive seems to be the mantra of today’s society. It doesn’t matter what exactly you need to accomplish, the goal is always to get there efficiently. The trouble is, how do you do it without burning out or losing your motivation along the way?
There are a lot of methods, some of them traditional, some of them more creative. Today, we want to introduce you to a five apps that will help you stay productive based on the Pomodoro technique. Read on to find out which ones work best.
Wait, What’s the Pomodoro Technique?
Basically, it’s a method of working, invented by an Italian in the 1980s. You work for 25 minutes, than take a 5-minute break, and then continue working for another 25 minutes. The work intervals are called “pomodoros” (Italian for tomato, and based on the tomato-shaped timer often used). Every four pomodoros you take a longer break (15–20 minutes). And for every accomplished work period you can reward yourself with an “x.”
The principle behind it is to have you focus for a short, but not too short period of time, give you the chance to take a breather in between and provide you with a longer break to make sure you don’t wear yourself out.
Of course, any watch with an alarm would suffice to follow this method, but it is the era of the iPhone, after all, so of course there are apps for that.
Pomodoro Pro is a clean app with a simple yet attractive design which offers as many or little settings, depending on what you’re looking for. The default settings are just as I described above: 25-minutes work, 5-minute breaks. The countdown is symbolized by a huge yellow circle with a start/stop button in the center; the remaining minutes are displayed in big numbers to the side. At the bottom, tiny stars symbolize accomplished pomodoros, giving you instant satisfaction at seeing how much you worked. There are graphs and statistics as well for previous days, and the app can run in the background and will notify you when a time period has expired.
The one thing Pomodoro Pro doesn’t let you do: you can’t enter a name for the task you’re working on. So while you’re seeing how much you’ve worked, you can’t associate a working period with a topic which might be helpful down the road to see how much time you needed for what.
The app is great for those who like the brighly colored countdown and overall visual candy.
Another well-polished interface, but one that goes for a different look. While Pomodoro Pro focuses on the visual display of passing time with a colorful circle which turns dark anti-clockwise, Promodoro displays a clock counting backwards in the fashion of the old-time bedside clocks. While I find it charming, the constant movement of the seconds-display annoyed me after a short while and I closed the app and had it count in the background. With one glance, passed pomodoros and breaks are visible; statistics for past accomplishments are available as well.
What Promodoro also brings to the table are push notifications: if you close the app, it will pop up a notification even when your phone is locked to let you know you can take a break or need to continue your work. Also, you can enter tasks and mark them complete, but unfortunately, you can’t assign them accomplished pomodoros.
The app is geared towards those who want a more business-like look, but also don’t need too many settings different from the original pomodoro technique.
Pomio – Pomodoro Task Manager
This is one of the more complex apps; it has all kinds of features which will delight everyone who structures their work through this technique. Not only can you enter tasks, you can color-code them and assign them different length work and break periods. The other apps let you change the time periods as well, but only throughout the entire app and not task-specific.
The benefit is not just that you can tailor your work sprints according to the material you’re working on, you can also analyze the collected data by color label. Add to that estimates (how many pomodoros you think you’ll need to finish a task) and a day-by-day breakdown of the time spent on every single task within the app.
Pomio is geared towards professional users who are not afraid of getting to know all the settings and will use them to track every minute of their working day. It offers great analytics and very detailed settings per task.
Simple Pomodoro Timer
If all of the above is too much for you and all you want and need is a timer set for 25-minute work intervals and short 5-minutes breaks (or longer ones if needed), then Simple Pomodoro Timer is for you. There are no settings, no statistical data and no marks for accomplishments, which might be unfulfilling for some. There are huge numbers taking up your entire screen and with a tap, you start the countdown (or pause it). Breaks are indicated with a bright yellow background, instead of the serene black during working periods.
Despite the simplicity of the app, you’ll get a push notification when you’re done; it will only make your phone vibrate, there are no sounds which might lead to your forced exile from the office on a busy pomodoro day. Breaks have to be started manually; this can be a downside if you forget it, but it can also help your productivity: instead of dropping whatever you’re doing so you can enjoy the entire 5-minute break, you can finish the stroke on the image you’re working on or finish that sentence you’re typing and then start the break on your terms.
Simple Pomodoro Timer might not have the rich feature set of the other apps, but through that is also a lot more flexible. And since it’s free, why not give it a try?
Not officially an app for the pomodoro technique, but Repeat Timer can easily fit the requirements. It supports timers of all sorts, but more importantly, it supports repeats and user-definable intervall times (between repeats). That makes it quite easy to set the 25 minute work period and 5 minute breaks. Just hit start and Repeat Timer does the rest.
While you can’t add any tasks nor assign timer-periods to them, Repeat Timer is still a great alternative to the above apps because it has the greatest flexibility and can be used for pretty much any repeating work without being limited to the pomodoro timeframe. The free app allows only 5 repeats, but that’s enough to find out if Repeat Timer works for you before purchasing the pro version which allows up to 99 repeats.
These five apps are only a fraction of what’s available on the App Store today, but they are among the ones which combine great and/or minimalistic design with a satisfying feature set. You pick how complex or simple you need it, there’s something for everybody.
Have you ever used the Pomodoro technique? What are your experiences? And do you think an app could help you be even more productive? Let us know in the comments.