Learn how to use the pomodoro timer to Focus, a way staying on task by using short intervals of work time

Pomodoro Timer


Traditional pomodoro tomato timer

The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most effective time management methods—it's a productivity timer that encourages regular breaks. In this technique a 25 minute or 30 minute timer is used to set for work. Another 5 minute timer is set for a short break. This cycle repeats as many times as necessary. A single cycle of work and rest is referred to as a pomodoro. Usually, after 4 pomodoros, a longer break (usually 15 minutes) is set.

The long break is a good time to get up and stretch and change your scenery before starting another long session.

This feature is one of the most helpful facilitators of productivity in Focus, making it a great pomodoro app.

The Pomodoro Timer and Focus

While Focus' core function keeps you free from distraction and zoned in on the task at hand, the Pomodoro Timer provides you with a balance of high-intensity production episodes and sufficient rest, allowing you to maximize your work hours without the risk of burn-out or mental fatigue.

Starting the Pomodoro Timer

To start using the Pomodoro Timer with your Mac, click the Focus icon in the menu bar (to right corner). From the drop down list select Focus for... and the desired length of time. Once the selection has been made Focus activates and the timer begins counting down.

By default, Focus offers a 25 minute Pomodoro session but it is possible to set up other Pomodoro session lengths. See Setting custom timers for instructions on doing so.

Starting the Pomodoro Timer from the Terminal

For power users who prefer working from the Terminal, Focus can be activated from that interface as well.

To do so, you may type the following in Terminal:

open focus://focus?minutes=25

This script example would launch Focus with a Pomodoro timer of 25 minutes.

You can also start a quick 5-minute break with the following command:

open focus://break?minutes=5

Setting custom Pomodoro Timers

For some, the standard 25 minute Pomodoro session is just not enough. While for others, sitting at a single task for longer than 15 minutes may be too much for them. One size does not fit all.

To set a Pomodoro session that fits your needs, click the Focus icon in the menu bar, scroll down the menu and select Custom focus....

You will be presented with the Custom Time Settings window. Here you may set your preferred Pomodoro length in both hourly and minutely increments.

Focus custom time window

You may either click within the field and manually enter how long you want the session to be or you could click the up and down arrows beside the fields, increasing and/or lowering the amount of time you want for the session. Once you are done, click Focus. If you've changed your mind and aren't ready to start a session then simply click Cancel.

Bonus! Once you've set and used a custom Pomodoro time then that time will become available as an option in the main menu for future use.

Using Pomodoro Timer with Hardcore Mode

To help you stay disciplined and to stick to the task at hand you could take things a step further by activating Hardcore Mode. Hardcore Mode works by locking access to Focus settings and preferences during timed sessions. This means you can't shorten the time, you can't stop the timer early, you can't unblock websites, NOTHING, until the session has expired. (Well, with the exception of adding new blocked sites and removing allowed sites, but that's IT!)

To activate Hardcore Mode click the Focus icon in the menu bar and select Preferences. This will present the Preferences window.

Select the General tab (seen along the top). Now click the checkbox beside Hardcore mode.

(If the box is already checked then Hardcore mode is already active will run when you start the Focus Pomodoro Timer).

Using the Pomodoro Method with Hardcore Mode is a great way time management technique—you'll quickly be on your way to more productivity!

Setting Pomodoro Timer as default mode

Does the Pomodoro technique feel like the right style of productivity and time management for you? Would you like that every time you start Focus it automatically starts your preferred Pomodoro session? No problem. We knew you'd like it so we built that in.

To activate this feature, click on the Focus icon in the menu bar and select Preferences. In the Preferences window, select the Menubar tab.

Under the option for Clicking the icon, select Enables Focus timer for XX minutes.

Now, whenever you trigger Focus by either clicking on its icon in the Menubar or using the keyboard shortcut it will automatically launch a Pomodoro session for the amount of time set.

Focus + Pomodoro = Productivity Plus!


The Pomodoro method was created by Francesco Cirillo while he was studying as a university student. The name of the technique, Italian for tomato, came from the fact that he used a tomato timer (a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato, sometimes egg timers are also used) to keep the pace of his break and work sessions.

The ticking sound of the timer can also help people work through their task list more efficiently, as they stay in flow.

Note: Focus is currently a Mac application, but iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android and Windows versions are planned. Also Focus works great at blocking native browsers, like Google Chrome, Safari and Opera.

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