The surprisingly simple productivity time saver

Five easy steps to improve your focus and get more work done using a kitchen timer.

The timer that rings when your pizza is done can also help you become more productive at work. Francesco Cirillo was a student at Guido Carli International University, a business school in Rome, in the early 1990s when he discovered the impact of timing tasks.

“I was easily distracted and unable to focus,” he says. “So I decided to give myself a challenge: study without interruption for 10 minutes.” He used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to keep track.

It took a few tries, but with practice and repetition the tool improved Cirillo’s study process, and 10 minutes eventually turned into 25 minutes of focus. A few years later, he used the timer in his job as a software developer for a European bank and found it strengthened his productivity. He named his system the Pomodoro Technique, after the Italian word for tomato.

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