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Published on Monday, March 25th, 2024

Pomodoro technique is killing your Deep Work

Discover why the popular time management method might be hindering your productivity.

A distracting tomato


Pomodoro Technique is everywhere. It's the most popular productivity technique. Those little timed work sessions and short breaks do work wonders for a lot of things. But if you're into the kind of work that needs serious brain power - coding, writing, that crazy in-depth research - Pomodoro might be doing more harm than good.

When Pomodoro Breaks Your Flow

You know that feeling when you're in the zone? You're fully focused, time seems to fly by, and you feel like you're effortlessly making progress? That's the flow state, and it's the holy grail of productivity. It's when you're at your most creative, productive, and efficient self. But here's the catch: it takes time to get there. Cal Newport estimates that it takes up to 20 minutes to start focusing, let alone reach the flow state. Especially when you're engaged in complex tasks like coding, writing, or analyzing data, it takes a good chunk of time to build your focus and enter the state of flow.

And just when you're in the groove, BEEP! Your Pomodoro timer forces a break, and the whole mental house of cards collapses. You're ripped out of your focused state, and it can take a significant amount of time to get back into it. It's like trying to catch a wave - just when you're about to ride it, it slips away.

This is where the problem with time management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique becomes apparent. While they can be effective for managing your overall time and staying organized, they don't take into account the unique needs of deep work.

Deep work requires long stretches of uninterrupted time to build focus and enter flow state. Constant interruptions, even short ones, can disrupt this process and make it difficult to achieve the desired level of productivity.

Breaks are Still Crucial, But...

Taking breaks is an essential part of maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout. However, the approach of taking breaks at set intervals may not always be the most effective strategy. Instead, it's important to listen to your body and mind, and take breaks when you actually need them.

One of the key signs that you need a break is when you find your mind wandering or your eyes glazing over. This is a clear indication that your brain is fatigued and needs a rest. At this point, it's crucial to step away from your work and take a few minutes to refresh and recharge. Taking breaks on-demand, rather than on a strict schedule, allows you to work with your natural rhythms and energy levels. Some people may find that they can work for longer periods without needing a break, while others may need more frequent breaks to stay focused and productive.

However, it's important to keep in mind that breaks should be limited in duration to avoid losing focus and momentum. While it's important to take breaks when you need them, it's equally important to ensure that those breaks don't turn into extended periods of procrastination or distraction.

One way to strike a balance is to set a time limit for your breaks. For example, you might decide to take a 5-10 minute break when you feel your focus starting to wane. During that break, you can step away from your work, stretch, take a quick walk, or do something else to refresh your mind and body. Once the break is over, it's important to get back to work and refocus on the task at hand.

The perfect Deep Work Session

Picture this: you're sitting down to tackle a challenging task, one that requires your full attention and mental energy. You've carved out a flexible block of time, anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the complexity of the task and your current state of mind. You put your phone on silent, and before diving into your Deep Work session, take a moment to set a clear intention. What do you hope to accomplish during this focused period of work?

Having a specific goal in mind will help you stay motivated and on track, even when the task gets challenging. Whether it's writing a certain number of pages, coding a specific feature, or analyzing a set of data, a clear intention will guide your efforts and keep you focused. Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps, and create a mental roadmap for how you'll achieve it. This clarity of purpose will give you the momentum you need to push through any obstacles and make meaningful progress.

This is your Deep Work session, a focused, uninterrupted period of productivity that will leave you feeling accomplished and satisfied.

To ensure the success of your Deep Work session, it's crucial to take breaks when you need them, but to keep them limited in duration. Listen to your body and mind, and when you feel your focus starting to wane, step away from your work for a few minutes. Take a quick stretch, grab a healthy snack, or do a brief meditation to refresh your mind and body. Use your breaks as an opportunity to recharge and support your overall well-being. But be careful not to let your breaks turn into extended periods of distraction - set a time limit and stick to it. A good rule of thumb is to keep your breaks short and focused, typically no more than 5-10 minutes at a time. This will help you maintain your momentum and avoid losing the valuable focus you've built up during your Deep Work session.

Finally, once your Deep Work session is complete, take a few minutes to reflect on how it went. Rate your session on a scale of 1-5, considering factors like how focused you were, how much you accomplished, and how mentally taxing the work was. This reflection will help you refine your Deep Work practice over time, allowing you to optimize your productivity and achieve your goals more efficiently.


If the above sounds appealing to you, and you're eager to experience the benefits of Deep Work for yourself, you should definitely check out the deep work sessions at The Deep Work sessions are carefully crafted with these key points in mind, ensuring that you have everything you need to achieve a state of focused, uninterrupted productivity.