I love pomodoros 🍅. But I have to admit, most of the time when I reach for them, it’s because I"m already having trouble staying on task with whatever I’m doing. I generally don’t get a lot of value out of the ’longer break’ option, a steady beat of work and breaks is enough for me.

In those circumstances I often find solace in the idea that a well-constructed pomodoro creates a certain lower bound on my work-to-play leverage ratio. The classic 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off gives you a 5:1 ratio.

When even a classic pomodoro feels like too much to get reliable work out of myself, I often take aim at adjusting this ratio, which I find disproportionately helps me get my head back in the game. 5:1 not hitting right? Let’s try a 2:1 instead (20 minutes working, 10 minutes break) or even a 1:1 (15 minutes working, 15 minutes break).

I also find turning on the “cheat code” of “Once I finish with my current task I get the rest of the time back for the break” works as a great short-term motivator for me. (Sometimes I let a task roll over to the next pomodoro which I realistically could have finished in this one - but that’s probably a sign I need a longer break anyway.)