Struggling to manage your time? The Pomodoro Technique is a simple timer-based productivity tool, and we’ve rounded up the best apps to help you use it.
The Pomodoro Technique was conceived in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. It’s a simple idea but one that’s highly effective for many. All you do is budget your time into short increments of 25 minutes each before taking a break for 5 minutes. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros (so, 100 minutes of work and 15 minutes of break time), you take a 15-20 minute break before starting over.
It takes a couple of days to gel with most people, but you’ll soon find that it’s a great way of breaking up your busy work day into manageable chunks with reasonable breaks. The following apps will help make the method a reliable habit.
And before we get into details, want to know why it’s called Pomodoro? It’s named after the Italian word for tomato because Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato—just like the one seen above—as his personal timer while ironing out the time management technique. So, now, you know!
Here’s the best Pomodoro timer apps and websites out there.
Best Web-Based Solution: Marinara Timer (Free)
Marinara Timer is a free web-based solution for breaking up your day via the Pomodoro method. The site offers three different types of productivity timer—traditional Pomodoro, a custom timer with plenty of options for different periods, and a kitchen timer (whereby you set a time and forget about it). The Pomodoro timer keeps things straightforward. Work through the 25-minute cycle before taking a 5-minute break.
It’s the kind of thing you can keep running in the background while you work with an audio alert giving you a heads up on when to stop. Scroll down the site, and Marinara Timer keeps track of how many Pomodoros you’ve completed and when you started and stopped them too. It’s a handy little tool.
We have Marinara Timer at the top of our list because it’s a perfect way to try the Pomodoro technique out without fussing with downloading an app or purchasing anything.
Best Smartphone App: Focus Booster (Free-$2.99 per month)
If a smartphone-based solution seems like a smart idea to you, then you can’t go wrong with Focus Booster. Available for both iOS and Android, the app offers a simple Pomodoro based timer with customizable options. You can tweak things like how long each session is as well as how long the breaks are in between, although obviously, it’s wise to keep close to the original concept.
As well as that, you can label and specify clients and tasks in mind, so you know exactly what you’re tackling next before a notification informs you of your plans. It’s a little bit of productivity and time tracking rolled into one.
The apps are free for up to 20 Pomodoro sessions per month with a more advanced plan costing $2.99 per month and offering 200 sessions during that period.
Best Windows App: Focus 10 (Free)
For Windows users, Focus 10 is a must-have Pomodoro Timer app. It’s simple and to the point, like all the best Pomodoro apps. Set up your timers and hit Start, and the app does the rest for you.
It’s possible to have a clock ticking sound in the background if you find that helps your productivity levels, but that’s about it as far as complexity goes. That’s exactly what you want from most Pomodoro apps, though. Sure, you can’t look up reports on past behavior but odds are you just need a little reminder to focus, and Focus 10 does exactly that for the price of a quick download and nothing more.
Best Mac App: Be Focused (Free)
This article is powered by Be Focused, a Mac-based Pomodoro Timer app—no really, I write on a MacBook, Be Focused is my go-to Pomodoro app, and I used it while writing this article. The product is super simple to use. It simply hides in your menu bar counting down the minutes before you take a break.
You can enter a few details about what task you’re tackling right now, or leave it as a basic timer. Whatever works for you. Much like with other similar apps, you can also track your progress and see what you’ve achieved each day or week, which is a nice way of making you feel good about yourself. It’s also possible to customize how long you work for and how long your breaks are, but we prefer to stick with the traditional methods.
If you like the app, you’ll be happy to hear it’s not only free but available for both macOS and iOS—you can use the same interface on both your computer, phone, and tablet if you’re a heavy Apple user.
Best For To-Do List Users: PomoDoneApp ($27.49 per year)
If you’ve got this far on your productivity journey, you’ve almost certainly learned to love a few task management apps along the way. PomoDoneApp connects to your favorite task management service then uses your to-do list to divide up time via the Pomodoro Technique.
The app works in conjunction with Evernote, Asana, Trello, Todoist, Basecamp, Wunderlist, Slack, and Jira, along with many other services, so there’s likely to be support for your favorite way of organizing your life. Besides Windows and Mac compatibility, there’s also a Chrome extension for added convenience.
Like all the apps here, PomoDoneApp keeps out of the way and remains minimalist in approach. It just gives you a nudge when you need it most.
The service costs $27.49 per year for up to three integrations, or you can pay $48.11 annually for unlimited integrations. Check out what services you use to work out what’s best for your situation.
Best For Trello users: Pomello (Free)
Does your work revolve around a seemingly never-ending virtual pile of Trello cards? If so, then Pomello is the Pomodoro timer for you. It turns your Trello cards into Pomodoro tasks so that you can easily devote 25-minute chunks of time to each task.
The app works for Windows, Mac, and Linux and takes seconds to set up. All you do is log into your Trello account, choose a list, and pick out which item you want to deal with next. Once highlighted, the timer starts and Pomello lets you know when you’ve run out of time and should take a break. It’s pleasantly minimalist like that.
The basic app is free with $20 per year, buying you additional features such as the ability to export productivity data or set custom timer sounds.