Something new I just discovered about the pomodoro technique (makes your pomodoros MORE effective)! : ADHD


TL,DR: Pomodoros follow the Pareto Principle. You will get the majority of your work done within only a few minutes of your pomodoro. Try as hard as you can (fight it, talk to yourself, do whatever you have to) to resist the temptation to procrastinate during the pomodoro. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you actually make some progress on what you’re working on.

Full Version (to Explain in More Detail):

So must of you are familiar with the pomodoro technique. You set a 25-50 minute timer to do nothing but focused work. Then, you take a 5-10 minute break. A lot of us struggle with this. It’s certainly not a panacea for people with ADHD. Still, I find it to be better than not using pomodoros.

But today I just realized something that’ll be a real game changer. Pomodoros follow the Pareto Principle. For those of you that don’t know or need reminded, the Pareto principle is basically the 80-20 rule. Or, that 80% of the results often come from 20% of the effort. The Pareto Principle has been found in many instances in nature, economics, life, and etc. Sometimes it’s a 90-10, or a 75-25, or a 95-5. Just remember the main thing, a high percentage of results may come from a relatively small percentage of effort or action.

The Application to ADHD:

Today, I was setting a pomodoro to work on something. A pretty boring work task that takes a lot of effort from me. I use the “Be Focused” app on Mac so that I can visually see where I am with my pomodoro. For basically the first 15 minutes, I wasn’t getting anything done. I was just sitting there thinking “I’m bored.”, “I don’t want to do this.”, “I want to do something else.”, “I wonder what year An Extremely Goofy Movie came out.” Nonetheless, I resisted the urges to get distracted, which took a lot of effort out of me.

Eventually, within the last 5-10 minutes of the pomodoro, I finally started making some progress. So for the first 15-20 minutes, I wasn’t getting much at all done. I was just fighting the urge to procrastinate. However, with only about 20-40% of my pomodoro left, that’s when I got the majority of the work done!

In that way, my pomodoros seem to reflect an 80-20 or 60-40 rule. Often, I will do 60-80% of the pomodoro’s work in the last 20-40% of the pomodoro. If you have ADHD, this might be the case for you too.

What Does This Mean?

Often, you just need to resist the temptation to procrastinate in those first few (or in my case, several) minutes of your pomodoro. If you can do that and not get distracted, eventually you’ll get a good amount of work done in the last few minutes. This likely relates to the principle of attention residue. Your mind basically needs time to adjust from whatever you were doing before (task A) to the whatever you’re working on now (Task B).

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