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Breaking Tasks into Manageable Chunks: The Pomodoro Technique ADHD [2024]

Breaking Tasks into Manageable Chunks: The Pomodoro Technique ADHD

pomodoro technique adhd

Hey, let’s focus for just a bit, and then we can relax!

The Pomodoro Technique is a friendly and effective way to manage time and boost focus, especially for those with ADHD. 

This method helps tackle challenges like time tracking and maintaining attention by breaking work into manageable chunks. 

It’s like having a timer that encourages you to focus for a bit and then relax. 

Give it a try and see how it can help you stay on track and feel less overwhelmed!

1. What Is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique, crafted by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s (*), is a straightforward yet effective method to enhance productivity. 

It uses a timer to break work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Here’s a simple guide on how to implement this technique:

    • Prepare Your Workspace: Start with a clear to-do list and a timer. You could use a traditional kitchen timer, your smartphone, or any digital timer.
    • Work in Blocks: Set the timer for 25 minutes and dedicate this time to working on just one specific task. Avoid all distractions during this period.
    • Take Short Breaks: Once the timer rings, take a 5-minute break. This is a great time to stretch, grab a coffee, or just relax your mind.
    • Enjoy Longer Breaks: After completing four of these 25-minute blocks, known as “pomodoros,” reward yourself with a longer break ranging from 15 to 30 minutes. This helps to recharge your batteries for the next round of tasks.

2. Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD

The Pomodoro Technique offers several benefits for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), including:

    • Structured Work: The technique involves breaking down tasks into manageable intervals, which can help individuals with ADHD maintain focus and stay on track. 
    • Time Awareness: By setting a timer for a specific interval, individuals with ADHD can better understand and manage their time, which is particularly important for those who struggle with time blindness.
    • Motivating: The Pomodoro Technique can be highly motivating for individuals with ADHD as it provides a sense of accomplishment and progress after each completed session, which can help build determination and motivation.
    • Accountability: The technique encourages individuals to commit to a specific task for a set period, which can help them stay accountable and avoid procrastination.
    • Preventing Burnout: By incorporating regular breaks into the work cycle, the Pomodoro Technique helps prevent burnout and maintain productivity throughout the day.

These benefits are particularly valuable for individuals with ADHD who often struggle with maintaining focus, managing time, and staying motivated.

The structured approach of the Pomodoro Technique can help you overcome these challenges and achieve greater productivity and success.

3. Step to application the pomodoro

The 25-minute work sprints are the core of the method, but a Pomodoro practice also includes three rules for getting the most out of each interval.

Break down task

If you’ve got a hefty task that seems like it’ll take more than four pomodoros, it’s time to slice it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. This way, you can tackle each segment one at a time, making steady progress without feeling overwhelmed.

Break task concept? In project management, a task is a work item or activity with a specific purpose related to the larger goal. It’s a necessary step on the road towards project completion.

How do I break down a task into smaller tasks?

Here is a concise summary of the key points for breaking down a big task into smaller steps:

    • Define your big task clearly to understand the overarching goal.
    • Brainstorm all the sub-tasks that make up the larger goal using mind maps, checklists, or discussions.
    • Prioritize the sub-tasks based on urgency, importance, and dependencies.
    • Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) for each sub-task.
    • Allocate the necessary resources, including time, tools, materials, skills and knowledge for each sub-task.
    • Start with the first sub-task and focus on one step at a time to build momentum.
    • Monitor progress using checklists, time tracking, and celebrating milestones.
    • Adapt and stay flexible to problem-solve obstacles and reevaluate priorities as needed.
    • Combine related sub-tasks into phases or stages for more efficient management.
    • Review the outcome, identify lessons learned, and celebrate your success upon completing the big task.

By breaking down big tasks into smaller, achievable steps and following this process, you can tackle even the most daunting projects more effectively.

Let’s take a common task and break it down into subtasks using the principles you’ve outlined. We’ll use the example of planning a vacation.

    • Big Task: Plan a Vacation
    • Define the big task
      • Goal: Organize a 7-day trip for a family of four in June.
    • Brainstorm Sub-tasks: 
      • Research destinations suitable for families.
      • Set a budget for the trip.
      • Book flights.
      • Find accommodation.
      • Plan daily activities.
      • Arrange transportation (rental car, train tickets).
      • Check passport validity and apply for visas if necessary.
      • Purchase travel insurance.
      • Pack for the trip.
    • Prioritize Sub-tasks: 
      • First, research destinations and set a budget as these will guide all other decisions.
      • Next, book flights and accommodation as prices can increase or become unavailable.
      • Then, plan daily activities and arrange in-country transportation.
      • Close to the departure date, check travel documents, purchase insurance, and pack.
    • Set SMART Goals for Each Sub-task: 
      • Research and set a budget by the end of this week: Identify top 3 destinations and determine an overall budget.
      • Book flights and accommodation within the next two weeks: Ensure all bookings are within budget and offer flexibility for changes.
    • Allocate Resources: 
      • Use travel websites and guides for research.
      • Allocate 2 hours daily over the next week for initial planning.
      • Consult with family members for preferences and special needs.
    • Start with the First Sub-task: 
      • Begin with destination research and budget setting.
    • Monitor Progress: 
      • Keep a checklist of each sub-task.
      • Use a calendar to track deadlines for bookings and payments.
    • Adapt and Stay Flexible: 
      • Be ready to adjust plans based on availability, budget changes, or family preferences.
    • Combine Related Sub-tasks into Phases: 
      • Phase 1: Research and budgeting.
      • Phase 2: Bookings and reservations.
      • Phase 3: Pre-travel preparations (documents, packing).
    • Review: 
      • Review the completed plans with your family.

By breaking down the task of planning a vacation into these detailed subtasks and following the structured approach, the process becomes more manageable and less overwhelming. Each step builds on the previous one, leading to a well-organized and enjoyable trip.

Bundle Up the Small Stuff

Got some mini-tasks that won’t even fill up a full pomodoro?

Group them together! For instance, you could combine “write rent check,” “set vet appointment,” and “read Pomodoro article” into one productive session. It’s like making a mini to-do list and checking it off all at once!

Respect the Pomodoro

Once you start that timer, it’s like launching a space mission — there’s no turning back until you land. 

By following these steps, the Pomodoro Technique helps you maintain focus and momentum throughout your workday, promoting efficiency and reducing burnout.

Whether you’re tackling a complex project or juggling multiple small tasks, this method can help you stay on track and make the most of your time.

4. Overcoming Challenges of the Pomodoro Technique ADHD

Although there are many advantages to using the Pomodoro Technique, there are some common challenges that individuals with ADHD may face as well.

These can include getting distracted and going off task before time is up, forgetting to set the timer, losing motivation, or taking longer breaks because of poor time management. Implementing reminders and accountability can help manage some of these challenges.

Here is how to overcome challenges individuals with ADHD may face when using the Pomodoro Technique:

    • Managing Distractions: It’s super important to minimize any distractions that can pull your focus away. Try putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode, and consider using noise-canceling headphones or listening to calming music if that helps you concentrate better.
    • Be Flexible: Everyone’s different, so feel free to adjust the length of your work sessions and breaks to better suit your needs and attention span. This customization can help reduce frustration and make the technique more effective for you. If you find you need a bit longer to recharge, it’s perfectly okay to extend your breaks.
    • Start Slow: Jumping into too much at once can be overwhelming. Begin with just 2-3 Pomodoros per task. This way, you can gradually build up your stamina and get more comfortable with the technique without feeling too pressured.
    • Use Phone Alarms: To help remember to start or stop your Pomodoro timers, set reminders or alarms on your phone. This little trick lets you fully immerse yourself in your task without having to watch the clock.
    • Find an Accountability Buddy: Pair up with a friend or a colleague who can work alongside you. This isn’t just about keeping each other on track—it’s also about making the process more enjoyable and less isolating.
    • Move Around: During your breaks, resist the urge to stay glued to your screen. Stand up, stretch, or take a brief walk. Moving around can help boost your blood circulation and sharpen your focus for the next round of work.

5. Temptations to Avoid When Using the Pomodoro Technique ADHD

It may feel tempting to procrastinate using the Pomodoro Technique. Those with ADHD may cut breaks short or get distracted by notifications.

It’s important to pay attention and notice when you begin to feel frustrated, impatient, or justify delays/procrastination. This can lead to further spiraling into unhelpful symptoms, but becoming aware of these red flags will help you self-correct.

    • Stay True to the Timer: It might be tempting to keep working past the timer if you’re in the groove, but sticking to the planned breaks is crucial. Overextending yourself can lead to burnout, making it tougher to tackle the next task with fresh energy.
    • Ease Into It: There’s no need to ramp up the number of Pomodoros too quickly. If you start feeling overwhelmed, it’s perfectly fine to take it slow. Remember, this is about finding a rhythm that works for you, not pushing yourself to the limit.
    • Stick to Your Schedule: If you find yourself falling behind, try not to push out your deadlines. Instead, refocus your efforts on the next Pomodoro. This can help you maintain momentum without the added stress of shifting timelines.
    • Be Kind to Yourself: Not finishing a task within one Pomodoro isn’t a failure—it’s an opportunity to break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. Celebrate what you have accomplished rather than beating yourself up. Negative self-talk can lead to avoidance and procrastination, so keep your inner dialogue positive and supportive.

By being mindful of these points, you can make the Pomodoro Technique a helpful ally in managing ADHD, keeping your work sessions productive and your mindset positive. Keep up the great work!

Tools & Apps for the Pomodoro Technique ADHD

1. Break Task: Tiimo

Key Features

Tiimo is a daily planner that visualizes time and integrates the Pomodoro Technique with your to-do list.

It provides a structured approach to breaking down tasks, setting timers for focused work sessions, and incorporating breaks for improved productivity and time management.


Tiimo offers a free trial, with subscription plans starting at $6.99 per month. Additional features may be available with premium subscriptions.

2. Set time: Pomodoro Apps

Key Features

Pomodoro apps like Focus Keeper, Forest app, Focus To-Do, and Focus Booster are designed to facilitate time management using the Pomodoro Technique. They typically include features such as customizable work sessions, break intervals, task tracking, and visual cues to enhance focus and productivity.


Prices can range from $1.99 to $6.99 per month, depending on the app and available features.

3. Do the work:

Key Features is a tool designed to enhance focus and productivity, although specific features related to the Pomodoro Technique or ADHD are not explicitly mentioned in the provided context.

It may offer features such as task organization, time tracking, or focus enhancement techniques to support concentration and efficiency.


    • Starter: $7.89/m yearly, $11.89/m monthly (Beta: $5.89/m yearly for early users with code 50FORBELIEVER) 
    • Standard: Future: $15.89/m yearly, $19.89/m monthly (Beta: $10.89/m yearly cho early users with code 50FORLOVER)


To wrap up, the Pomodoro Technique is a fantastic tool for anyone with ADHD looking to boost their productivity and get a handle on their tasks. 

By breaking work into focused 25-minute chunks with well-timed breaks, it helps keep your concentration sharp and your motivation high. 

This method is especially great if you find time management and procrastination challenging. Adopting the Pomodoro Technique can lead to noticeable improvements in completing tasks, avoiding burnout, and achieving more in both your personal and professional lives.

So, if you’re looking for a structured yet flexible way to manage your day, give this technique a try—it might just be the life changer you need!

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