The Pomodoro technique can help people with ADHD get more out of their study/work sessions, and it’s also a good tool for anyone who wants to be more efficient and reduce the impact of life’s distractions.

Procrastination, lack of motivation, and overworking to mental exhaustion are common ADHD symptoms. All of these are issues that the Pomodoro technique can help with.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

You’ve probably heard of the Pomodoro Technique, which has recently gone mainstream among students and working professionals. What exactly is the Pomodoro technique?

The Pomodoro Technique was founded by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and is named after the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used in its design. (“Pomodoro” means tomato in Italian.) Cirillo was a stressed college student looking for a better way to organize his time, understand how he spent it, and stay on track while studying.

Since then, his timed interval technique has been used to increase productivity worldwide.

The Pomodoro technique is a simple focusing method that allows for highly productive study/work sessions.

What is ADHD?


ADHD, otherwise known as Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is diagnosed as one of three types according to the American Psychiatric Association: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined.

Common symptoms people with ADHD suffer from are difficulty organizing and focusing on tasks and problems paying attention.

Important Steps of Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro method is divided into six steps, according to Cirillo. It’s pretty simple!

  1. Choose the task to focus on, whether leftover math problems or research for an upcoming essay.

  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Commit to spending this time on just your chosen task without interruption.

  3. Work on the tasks until the timer goes off. Cirillo recommends: “If you suddenly realize you have something else you need to do, write the task down on paper.”

  4. When the timer sounds, make a checkmark on a piece of paper or an academic agenda. Then, congratulate yourself on staying focused!

  5. Take a short break of 5-10 minutes. Enjoy a quick stretch or put on a song and dance! Remove yourself from your desk and fire up different mental and physical muscles.

  6. After four intervals, or “Pomodoro’s,” as Cirillo refers, take a more extended break of 15-20 minutes. For example, take a shower, eat something, or go for a walk. You’ll need this time to process what you’ve learned and feel refreshed enough to return to work if necessary.

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD Kids?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that your child can use in school and at work throughout their lives. This process can be tailored to their current needs and grade level with a few tweaks; here are some ideas to get you started.

Visual Representation

On a wall calendar, in an academic planner or digital calendar for older kids, make a visual representation of that day’s study session. Using different colors for different tasks/projects will help your student understand what work is ahead of them and when they will get a break.

For example, a fourth-grader might have a purple block for today’s assigned novel reading and a green block for continuing work on a science project, with blue blocks in between for breaks. In addition, filling in other activities on the family calendar, such as dinner or “free time” after two blocks, can help put things into perspective.

Remove Distractions

It should be said that allowing your child to manage distractions independently is dangerous. If your child works online, assist them in closing all applications and browser windows. Even better, take a few minutes to set up a parental control app that you can activate at the start of each study session.

To reduce interruptions, turn off devices and assign siblings to their academic tasks in separate spaces if necessary, with an adult nearby to intervene if things get out of hand. Allowing everyone to read, work on projects, or engage in some “quiet” time at the same time each day can help a child who has homework feel less left out.

Experiment First

With an open mind, approach your first few Pomodoro attempts. It will take time for you and your child to figure out how much work can be completed reliably in one sitting. For example, you’ll see how long studying for the weekly spelling test takes versus doing online research for a geography report over time.

Expect to overestimate and devalue some tasks. If your child finishes a Pomodoro session earlier than expected, be prepared to end it and use the remaining time to review answers, give an early break, and move the schedule forward.

Conversely, don’t get discouraged if a task takes longer than expected; take planned breaks and help your child use their new planning skills to schedule more time in the needed area later that week in their calendar.

Adapt the Intervals

While 25 minutes may be ideal for a student in grade 11 who is preparing for a final exam, it may be unrealistic for a younger child who needs to finish a few math questions or complete a nightly reading assignment.

In addition, younger students may require fewer “pomodoros” (work intervals) and more extended rest periods. You can adjust the breaks based on the scope of your child’s assignment, their ability to stay on task, or both as you experiment.

Regardless of your child’s age or ability to maintain focus, consistency is essential so that they don’t develop the expectation that they can complain or argue their way out of doing their homework.

In the case of an older child, however, some days may present less time for a lesson, and you may choose to focus on just one task or shorten the intervals to complete a portion of each of several assignments. When possible, be flexible while remaining consistent.

Does the Pomodoro technique work?

According to Rebecca Mannis, Ph.D., a Learning Specialist at Ivy Prep, the Pomodoro technique’s greatest strength is its simplicity and accessibility. It can be used for almost any task, whether writing a book or organizing your house.

But, like any other time management technique, Pomodoro will only work if you use it consistently. The Pomodoro method can help you feel more in control of your tasks if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by a project or lost in your to-do list.

It’s easy to start and can be used throughout the day to help you train your brain and slow the cycle of distraction and self-interruption by working in 25-minute intervals.

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