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Heart Aflutter: #Begrudgingly Pomodoro

This blog post is cross-posted to Maria's personal blog, which you can read at

I’ve been avoiding the Pomodoro Technique ever since I heard about it. A colleague of mine, John, told me that he used it and I simultaneously felt jealous of his productivity and utter hatred for the technique.

The method, for those of you who are either unaware of the method or in deep denial of it, goes something like this:

1. Decide on the task to be done. 2. Set the pomodoro timer (typically 25 minutes). 3. Work on the task. 4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper. 5. If you have fewer than 4 checkmarks, go back to step 2 and continue. 6. After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
From: Pomodoro Technique, Wikipeda.

OK. Let’s just unpack this for a minute.

I’m not really comfortable with you, wikipedia editor and purponents of the Pomodoro Technique, suddenly calling a 25-minute interval a “Pomodoro” in your instructions like it is a thing. It’s not a thing. You just made it up, I’m reading the instructions of the thing for which you made the name! It’s also named after a kitchen timer brand of the same name.

This is akin to me suddenly deciding to call a habit a “Xerox’ed behavior” and I just won’t have it.

I also just want to point out that even if I were to try the Pomodoro Technique, I don’t believe I have a ‘checkmark count.’ If I have it, I don’t want to know about it and certainly not ‘reset it.’

Upon further review, a checkmark count is just the aforementioned piece of paper with a string of checkmarks on it. It’s important you don’t use a digital tool for this, because apparently these physical tools themselves will rush to give you little productivity-pats on the back:

The creator and his proponents encourage a low-tech approach, using a mechanical timer, paper, and pencil. The physical act of winding the timer confirms the user’s determination to start the task; ticking externalises desire to complete the task; ringing announces a break.
From: Pomodoro Technique, Wikipeda.

I can only assume now that the editor of this article has never been in the last period of high school staring at a clicking clock and willing for it to be over. The ticking isn’t a cheerleader, it’s an audio cage of your own oppression.

I’m getting myself upset here, and I think it’s important we all circle back and remember that I am the kind of person who likes yoga and the KonMari method. I am perfectly comfortable thinking that my socks are happier folded instead of bunched together (Marie Kondo gasped in horror when she saw socks bunched together like tubers!) or knowing that “pranayama” means “something about breathing” when a yoga I follow on YouTube teacher uses it with no explanation or context of the original Sanskrit. But for some reason the image of a little kitchen timer proudly “announcing” that I, an adult, can rest now, makes me want to pull my hair out.

And the really frustrating thing is, people love it. And so the Pomodoro Technique has invaded my psyche like a purple fog, mocking me. It has always loomed in the background of my consciousness, mocking me. “Maybe,” the Pomodoro Method hisses in my ear whenever I fall into a depression about my motivation or lack thereof, “you just need to reset your checkmark counter!”

“No,” I respond back to the Pomodoro Method, desperately. “Don’t you understand, I am creative and thoughtful. Frequently I get so invested in work that I practically forget to blink for hours at a time! So what if I have other periods of time where I feel irritated and easily distracted? Don’t you see, damn Pomodoro Method, that it all evens out in the end?”

And then the Pomodoro Method laughs in my face, disappearing from my mind in a hailstorm of shattered dreams of and word counts, and emails sent, and an amazing yoga practice, and a perfect tidy home, and, and, and, and.

There’s this trope that people who seemingly hate each other really are just madly in love with one another and just aren’t able to admit to themselves. I’m pretty familiar with this trope; I’ve read fanfiction.

Knowing this, I stare at myself and wonder uncomfortably: am I in love with the Pomodoro Technique? Is it the thing that is missing from my life? Will it help me work from home during this once-in-a-generation (Baruch HaShem) global pandemic?

My heart is a-flutter.

Fine, I sigh. I will try the Pomodoro Technique tomorrow. I will hashtag it on social media as #BegrudginglyPomodoro.

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