Why Focus Is The World’s Best Pomodoro Timer App
The Pomodoro Technique provides you with the perfect balance of high-intensity productivity and sufficient recovery, letting you squeeze the most value out of your work hours without burnout or fatigue.
However, it can’t block out all of the incoming distractions on your computer, both offline and online.
That’s where Focus comes in.
Focus has the core function of blocking all distracting websites and preventing access to unnecessary apps.
The Pomodoro Technique gives you a structure for work, while Focus makes your working environment free of any and all distractions.
For any serious productivity enthusiast, this is a lethal combination!
But that’s not all: Focus has a specific Pomodoro mode feature that allows you to set up an automated 25:5 / work:rest schedule.
All you have to do is turn Focus on and let the app take care of the rest.
So What Exactly Is The Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy developed by Italian entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the 90s while attending university.
He came across the idea when he used a tomato-shaped timer (Pomodoro = “tomato” in Italian) to start working in focused bursts of time.
This was a much more effective way of getting things done compared to a single work session lasting several hours.
Here is how it works:
- Have a single task you would like to achieve.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes, working on NOTHING ELSE but the task.
- When the timer rings, reset the timer for 5 minutes and take a break. DO NOT do any more work or think about work.
- Repeat Steps #2-3 three more times. At the end of the fourth 25-minute working session, take a longer break.
- Repeat Steps #2-4 as many times as you like! ;)
It’s literally that simple.
Four cycles of work and rest (a single cycle of work and rest is referred to as a “Pomodoro”), a slightly longer break, rinse and repeat.
Why Does The Pomodoro Technique Make People More Productive?
The Pomodoro Technique takes advantage of a concept called “timeboxing”.
Timeboxing involves working on a single task for a defined period of time, followed by a very short break.
You repeat this cycle as many times as needed, whether with the same task or a new task.
Timeboxing takes advantage of the fact that our body (including our brain) has highs and lows in energy throughout the day.
You cannot continuously exert energy and expect to avoid burnout, as the body requires periods of rest and recovery in order to perform optimally.
Think of it timeboxing as a “sprint” and not a marathon: Periods of high-intensity activity followed by shorter periods of recovery to gain back the energy we spent.
In short, time boxing helps prevent the loss in concentration and stamina experienced when you sit down to work for 4 hours at a time.
As there are many different variations of timeboxing that existed before the Pomodoro Technique, Francesco was not the innovator of timeboxing.
However, his approach popularized the concept as it presented people with a sustainable way to maintain peak productivity over the course of an entire day.
There are a couple of reasons why it has gained a somewhat “cult” following in the self-improvement space:
Minimal tech set-up: You need a timer and a task that needs to get done. Nothing else.
Low commitment: 25 minutes is not a long time, so it’s easy to get started and do a small of work.
Encourages efficient work: The ticking sound of the timer motivates you to stay in flow and work on nothing else but the task at hand.
Many people report getting more done in a few Pomodoro’s than an entire 8-hour workday.
Recovers energy: The 5-minute break helps you stretch, change your scenery and mentally recharge your batteries before another working session
Forces you to prioritize your time: If you only have a limited amount of Pomodoro’s available in the day, there’s only so much you can get done.
The Pomodoro Technique forces you to break your tasks down into chunks and re-examine what’s really important to get done on your to-do list.
Setting Up The Pomodoro Timer In Focus
There are 2 primary ways to set up a Pomodoro timer in Focus.
POMODORO TIMER SETUP #1: TERMINAL COMMANDS
If you are a power user who prefers to manually start your work and rest periods within a single Pomodoro, you can use the Terminal app (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app).
To launch Focus for a working session of 25 minutes, type in the following:
To enable a 5-minute break within Focus, input this command:
POMODORO TIMER SETUP #2: AUTOMATED POMODORO MODE
Click the Focus menubar icon, click Preferences and navigate towards the General tab:
First, leave the box next to Pomodoro mode checked off (as seen in the picture above).
Second, leave the box next to Break mode checked off.
NOTE: By default, Focus allows 30 minutes of break time every 24 hours, and is set to give you a 5-minute break each time the timer expires.
However, you can customize this to your liking. See the Breaks page for more information.
Having both boxes checked off tells Focus to automatically loop between a period of distraction-free work (i.e. your 25-minute work session) and a period of rest (i.e. your 5 minutes of rest) until you choose to stop the loop.
Please note that if you try to enable Pomodoro mode while turning off Break mode, you will get the following notification:
To start this loop, exit Preferences and simply click on the Focus menubar icon.
NOTE: By default, Focus will have an option that allows you to set a 25-minute timer. If this is not the case, you will have to select Custom focus and input a time period of 25 minutes.
And you’re done! You have an automated Pomodoro timer on your Mac that fits in perfectly with your workflow.
Focus + Pomodoro = Supercharged Productivity!
Focus is only available for Mac computers at the time of writing, but iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android and Windows versions are planned.
Setting Up A Customized Pomodoro Timer In Focus
Everyone is unique in how they approach productivity, and may need a different setup in using the Pomodoro Technique.
To alter the time spent in a working session, please see the “How To Start Using The Focus App” section on the Using Focus page.
Once you’ve set up and used a custom time in Focus, that option will become available in the main menu for future working sessions (i.e. you don’t have to re-enter it via the Custom focus option).
To alter the amount of time spent on a break, or how much total time you have for breaks over a predefined period of time, please see the Breaks page for more information.
Focus + Hardcore Mode + Pomodoro Timer = NUCLEAR EXPLOSION!
If you really want to keep yourself in an infinitely productive loop of Pomodoro’s without the chance of escaping, enable Hardcore Mode before activating your Pomodoro setup in Focus.
In short, Hardcore Mode prevents you from changing ANY of your Preferences while Focus is in a timed working session.
You can’t stop the timer early, shorten the duration of your working session, unblock websites…NOTHING.
Moreover, Focus will override any of the settings you set up in Break mode.
There are only three things you can do while Hardcore Mode is enabled:
Add new websites to your Blocklist.
Remove websites from your Allow List.
Wait until the timer expires before you are back in a break, and then change the app’s Preferences.