How The Pomodoro Technique Can Help You Work Through Creative Blocks

You Can Achieve Any Goal Using A Simple Timer!

During the height of the pandemic lockdown, when the world seemed to be falling apart, I found myself to be surprisingly productive. No! I didn’t clean my house or organize my life. Yes! Like most humans around the world, I gained pandemic blubber. However, I did accomplish something pretty dang impressive. Utilizing the Pomodoro Technique, I wrote five novels and helped edit and publish four additional books.


The Nuts And Bolts—And Tomatoes—Of The Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo that alternates timed work sessions with short breaks. The system promotes concentration and prevents mental fatigue. Cirillo used a timer to break work into 25-minute intervals. A short break separates each interval. Since Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to keep track of the intervals, he named his system after the Italian word for tomato.


The technique typically uses a 25-minute work session followed by a 5-minute break.



Each individual must experiment to find the time intervals that work best for them. I find twenty-minute intervals to be my sweet spot. Perhaps a thirty-minute work, ten-minute rest interval will fit your needs. Maybe a fifteen-minute work, 4-minute rest interval will be what you find most productive.


Start with twenty-five to five intervals and adjust until you find your sweet spot.


My Experience Using This Technique

I set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes then focus until the time is up. When my timer goes off, I take a 6-minute break. I get a drink of water, stretch, pat my dogs, use the restroom, then get back to it. I don’t need to set my timer for those six minutes when I am doing something I am excited to return to, such as novel writing. However, I have to use it when I am doing a less appealing task, such as editing or writing Individualized Education Plans for my students at school.


Combating Creativity Blocks

Although strict adherents to the Pomodoro Technique may suggest that I have adapted it too much, I say, “Heck no. It’s working for me!” These twenty-minute segments have been the key to helping me work through writing and creativity blocks. Even if I have no idea what to write about, I sit for twenty minutes filling my blank page with words, phrases, and whatever else comes to mind.


Wa-lah! Three Pomodoros later, I have worked through my block. I have used this same method to create award-winning dance choreographies.



Adapt This Technique To Any Task.

If you want to write novels but work a full-time job and have limited time, set that timer once a day so that you aren’t stagnating. Eventually, when life allows you a bit more time to focus on your project, you won’t have a blank page staring at you.


If you have to accomplish a stressful task that you keep procrastinating, set that timer, focus, and get the job crossed off your to-do list.


If you have an eight-hour workday ahead of you and sitting through it feels like threading a needle for eternity—set that clock and take those breaks. Halfway through your day, take an extra-long invigorating break.


Recently, I applied this twenty-minute concept hoping to recover my workout mojo. Pre-pandemic, I trained obsessively. Sometimes as much as three hours a day. When the pandemic hit, I lost my love of working out, and heading back to the gym felt like torture.


I set a timer for twenty minutes a day and forced myself to work out until my cell phone timer dinged. The month of forced workouts was a struggle. But I did it. Then I increased my workout time in small increments. Fingers crossed—I think I have my workout mojo back. Once again, I look forward to my dancing, running, and lifting. I’m no longer at the gym two to three hours a day; I just don’t have that kind of time teaching high school, writing, and editing. But two to three workout Pomodoro’s a day have given me some much-needed balance.


Tackling My Next Task

My dressing room looks like a bomb went off, and it could take me a millennium to organize the disaster. I will start with one twenty-minute time segment a day to see what happens.


Final Thoughts

Make this technique work for you. Don’t fret if you only have ten minutes a day to devote to a task. The key is setting that timer, focusing, and getting it done!


I’d love to hear from you. Have you used the Pomodoro technique? What has it helped you to accomplish?


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