The Secret Power of Tomatoes for Writers …

Welcome to your third day of becoming a faster, more productive writer.

Jen Adams here, ready to help you boost your output by adding tomatoes to the mix.

Now, I’m not talking about a dietary change. I’m talking about the kind of tomatoes championed by Italian productivity expert Francisco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

To him, a tomato – known in Italian as the pomodoro – was a unit of time equal to 25 minutes.

Why? Well, he had a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato … and he’d noticed if he used this timer as a time management tool, he got a lot more done.

He’d work for 25 minutes and then take a 3- to 5-minute break. Then, back to work, and then a break, and so on.

Not a fancy system, by any means. And, on its surface, kind of silly-sounding, I’ll admit. But actually, the “Pomodoro Technique” (as it’s officially known today) taps into some pretty advanced brain secrets:

  • We all have a natural resistance to work. Lower the perceived amount of time you have to “do work” and you lower the natural resistance to getting the work done.
  • Deadlines – even fake ones like the ding of a kitchen timer – help you stay on task so you finish more work.
  • Plus, a brain that gets periodic breaks lasts longer. Multiple brain studies have shown even short breaks can be enough to refresh your neurons and keep you “hot” longer.

So, once Cirillo started sharing his Pomodoro Technique, it caught on all over the world. Anywhere business or creative people were looking to get more done, you’d find little timers ticking away.

It’s a simple, fast way to organize your time. And, from personal experience, I can tell you it definitely works.

But, don’t just take my word for it … try it yourself!

Access the free online Pomodoro Technique timer at Tomato-Timer. Then, pick a task from your to-do list (or dive into one of the chunked activity groups you set up yesterday). Start the timer and work on the task until the timer dings.

As you take your break, assess how things went and share your thoughts in the comments. Then dive back in and see just how many things you really can accomplish with tomatoes yet today!

By the way, if you’re thinking there’s something about the Pomodoro Technique that sounds familiar, you’re right. Decades before Francesco Cirillo got going, the legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz worked under a similar system. You can read more about his 33-minute egg timer system in Mike Palmer’s great article on productivity. Then, feel free to try your own variations!

Tomorrow, I’ll give you my secret weapon for eliminating distractions as you work – even when you’re working in short bursts, like in the Pomodoro Technique. They’re all free, and they’ll help you make a ton more money. Stay tuned!

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Published: October 1, 2014

7 Responses to “The Secret Power of Tomatoes for Writers…”

  1. Long before I learned about the Pomodoro Technique, I figured out I could get a whole lot more done (housework-wise) if I made a game of it and timed it. So, for instance, my coffee pot took a full 12 minutes to brew a full pot, so I would just dive into one task and work on it until the coffee pot started making that gurgling "I'm finished" sound. Then I rewarded myself w/ a cup. I found I could finish a lot in those 12 minutes! Now I have a Keurig, so I have only about 30 seconds to play the coffee game. Guess I need to set the timer...

    Guest (EllenB)

  2. It is my pleasure to comment! Took a short 10 minute break on my deck overlooking the river in Seaside, Oregon. Isn't is amazing that the simplest things in life are the most wonderful. I spent time talking to the adorable little crows and they looked so puzzled. Thank you again: Rhoda

    Guest (Rhoda Gelman)

  3. I took a short break and went outside, named the gecko and the 2 squirrels. --Funny but nice. Breaks are definitely good. I have busy days so I'll do that more often.


  4. I violate my 33.33 timer. The task gets finished (regardless of time). When possible, I have several 5 minute tasks. But also have 20 minute tasks (take dogs for short walk, walk 1/2 mile on treadmill).... However, at least I'm breaking up the computer 'sore-butt' situation.

    Guest (Joseph)

  5. There is nothing more peaceful than a little break. Keep the breaks going my people.


  6. Focus@will has a timer built into their platform. It's great because it's seamless music and then you get a very soft fade out of music and a quiet "ting".
    I usually do some heart rate variability training at this point for a few minutes and jump back in.
    Productivity has multiplied much!

    Guest (Will)

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