Quick Tip: The Pomodoro Technique for Authors

The Pomodoro Technique for AuthorsOne of my favorite productivity tools in my freelance writing and blogging work is a timer. I use something called the Pomodoro Technique which breaks down my work into small, manageable periods of time. It's a great way to stay focused and push yourself to see how much you can do in a short stretch. And it turns out, it works well for writing books and e-books too.

For this week's quick tip, let's take a look at what the Pomodoro Technique is and how you can make it work for you as an author.

How the Pomodoro Technique Works

The Pomodoro technique is all about mapping out your work schedule based on alternating work periods and breaks. That involves planning. But it also involves challenging yourself.

You do that with a breakdown like this:

25 minutes of work / 5 minute break

After every four sets, you would take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

So here's my basic schedule when I write using the Pomodoro Technique:

  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 5 minute break
  • 25 minutes working
  • 30 minute break

Then it starts all over again.

Another way to think of it is taking at least a 10 minute break each hour that you work.

The longer breaks are great for unwinding and clearing your head. You can go for a walk, take a short nap, read a book, or do whatever works for you.

How the Pomodoro Technique Can Help Authors

I'm sure at least some of you are wondering how you could ever write a book in 25-minute increments. But it really can help. And remember, you don't have to use it every time you work. Here are a few ways you might be able to make it work for you:

  • Challenge yourself to hit certain word counts in each Pomodoro.
  • Optimize the time you spend outlining or conducting research.
  • Push yourself to get through the first draft of each chapter or scene quickly (great if you're taking part in a timed challenge like NaNoWriMo or if, like me, you prefer quick and dirty rough drafts with more focus on later revisions).
  • Squeeze in more writing even when you only have a little bit of available time (like running through a Pomodoro or two while the baby naps).

The big benefit is that the Pomodoro technique makes you much more aware of how you're spending your time. That makes it easier to see where you can improve your productivity in general.

If you want to work with longer writing periods, you can always customize the plan to work for you.

Two Tools for the Pomodoro Technique

Here are my two favorite timers that I use when working with the Pomodoro Technique:

  • e.ggtimer.com -- This is a browser-based timer.
  • Pomodoro Tracker -- This one is an Android app.

Share your own Pomodoro tools recommendations or other productivity tips for authors in the comments.

Get More Content Like This in Your Inbox

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter where you'll be notified of new blog articles and receive subscribers-only content.

Subscribe now.

9 thoughts on “Quick Tip: The Pomodoro Technique for Authors”

  1. It’s simpler than my method, for sure. I set the Project Timer, then get to work. I have to remember to turn it off each time I stand up or answer an email, but it works because I can see exactly how much time I’m spending on work and how much time is being wasted.

  2. I time myself often, but not to push myself to get something done… I push myself without a timer and I want to know for sure how much time I’m spending… might experiment with this to see how/if it helps.

    Love eggtimer… I use it to, guess what, time cooking when I’m cooking and writing…

  3. This is a great technique that I’ve used for years in one form or another. Lately I’ve been doing about 50 minutes of work and then taking 10 minutes or so completely away from the computer to do small chores or some stretching, or to take a short walk.

  4. Nice tip! I definitely think this is something I can apply to my freelancing work, too. I’ll have to try it out.


Leave a Comment