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Pomodoro timers for productivity

white timer on desk

We’re huge fans of the Pomodoro technique and suggest it a lot during both coaching sessions and more on-the-fly “helpline” interactions with Studio Scholars and others. In fact, it’s such a reliable productivity boost that we compare it to meditation. Why? As long as you stick to the gist, you can make it your own; there are basically zero cons and a lot of pros; and really the only reason people don’t practice it is that they forget to get around to it.

It’s so helpful that we have integrated a Pomodoro timer tool into our Studio Scholars Slack workspace since almost day 1 of the program’s existence. Recently, however, it stopped functioning, which turned out to be even more horrifying than we expected it to be. That glitch also led us to compile a list of favorite Pomodoro timers, so we thought we’d pass it along.

Before suggesting some specialized apps, it’s probably worth mentioning two super-simple solutions. First, you can always use the simple timer on your phone’s clock app. Second, especially if you’re at home, you may have an actual kitchen timer that you can use. Remember, the whole Pomodoro concept is based on using a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. (If you do choose to go really low-tech, be warned that many old-school timers make ticking sounds that some people find truly rage- or anxiety-inducing.)

Here are a few other Pomodoro timer tools and apps that might help you boost your focus and research productivity:

For iPhone: MultiTimer: Multiple timers
This app is exactly what it says it is: a bunch of different timers. I don’t use iPhone, but here’s what Laura says: “I originally got this to help my mom coordinate things needing to go in and out of the oven during holiday meal prep. When our pombot died, I opened this app and discovered that it has a dedicated Pomodoro timer. It’s pretty lightweight and easy to use. I have the free version.” It looks like there’s also a pro version that costs $7.99 for all the features.

For Android: Pomodoro Timer Lite / Pomodoro Timer Pro
I love how tightly this adheres to the actual technique. I’m not sure I’m going to use their little scratch pad, but the tomato red and built-in breaks feels legit. Pro tip—you can turn off the ticking sound! The Lite version is free and does the basic action. The Pro version of Pomodoro Timer is $2.99 and gives you some extra bells and whistles.

If you want to time All the Things: Toggl.com / Toggl app
Many freelancers use Toggl for all of their time-tracking, which should give you a sense of how robust it is. It lets you break down timing records in a number of different ways, serves up reports, and has desktop, web, and mobile versions. The Pomodoro timer is basically one bonus feature among many on Toggl. If you think you’d like to track your time in general, in addition to tracking Pomodoro units, this is a great resource.

There are many, many more Pomodoro timers and other resources out there, with all kinds of integrations and bells and whistles. Remember, as with virtually everything else, the best Pomodoro timers are the ones you’ll use. We generally like to keep it simple, and advise others to do so, too. But there’s a sweet spot that maximizes utility and fun, and yours may be different than ours. Be productive. Have fun.