Better Productivity for Lawyers? Try the Pomodoro Technique

Like most office workers, lawyers and their support staff are increasingly struggling with information overload. Lawyering often requires deep thinking, thorough research and precise drafting, among other tasks. This time intensive work can easily get high jacked with constant distractions such as email, internet browsing, blog feeds, instant messaging, snail mail, meetings, phone calls and “twittering”.

The amount of information we receive on a daily basis has grown dramatically, but the amount of control we have over that information seems to have decreased exponentially. The Pomodoro Technique may be a good filter from internal and external distractions to keep you focused on the task at hand.

The Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo, breaks down periods of work into 25-minute intervals, separated by breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that was first used by its creator Francesco Cirillo when he was a university student (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato).

The aim of the Pomodoro Technique is to use time as your ally rather than your enemy to more efficiently accomplish tasks. For each 25 minute interval, the goal is to focus on the task at hand while avoiding internal and external distractions as much as possible.

You need a timer, paper and a pencil to get started.

The basic steps are:

1. Create a to do list of the tasks to be accomplished that day and prioritize them;
2. choose the first task to be done;
3. set the timer to 25 minutes (or one “pomodoro”);
4. work on the task until the timer rings;
5. take a five minute break;
6. When the five minutes are up, keep working, pomodoro after pomodoro, until the task is complete. Once the task is complete, you can cross it off your list. Then move on to the next task;
7. every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15-20 minutes).

Many people find it difficult to concentrate on one task for 25 minutes at a time. Francesco reassures us that with his technique, “the next pomodoro will go better”.

You can download a free PDF detailing the technique here.

I haven’t personally tried this technique yet, but I’ve read convincing testimonials about it during late night internet browsing sessions. I’ll put it first on tomorrow’s to do list.


  1. I like staying up-to-date of time management techniques. The Pomodoro technique is one I’ve never heard of before but it sounds good. I’ll give it a try. I agree that it’s probably easier tackle tasks when you approach it with a set deadline. It kind of incorporates Parkinson’s Law which is states the more time you give a project, the larger it will grow in scale and scope. Therefore, if you put a tight deadline on it, you’ll stick to the basics and be amazed what you can complete in a very short period of time.

  2. Are you allowed to catch up on your email in the breaks?