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Home / Tips and Tricks / I tried 5 different Pomodoro apps for 5 days – this helped me get the most done «Smartphones :: Gadgethacks

I tried 5 different Pomodoro apps for 5 days – this helped me get the most done «Smartphones :: Gadgethacks



Procrastination is an ugly beast. At first it seems so harmless to watch Reddit or Twitter for five minutes. You start working immediately. Before you know it, it is 1

o'clock in the morning and that paper must be in seven hours. Before you start with another YouTube video, know that you don't have to be like Spongebob. You can be like me, control your productivity with the right app.

"But I don't want to work," you say. "I want to do something fun ." Listen, I promise those memes will be there when you return. They always are. Instead, I'm going to talk about five free apps I've tried for five days, designed to get you to work and keep you focused. How? With the Pomodoro technique.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

I'm glad you asked. Created by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique helps you stay on track by splitting your work into short, easy-to-manage time intervals. Now these intervals change depending on who you are talking to, but for the most part here is the general rule:

Set a timer for 25 minutes. Do nothing but work all the time. Do not check Facebook, do not reply to that WhatsApp message. Work . "We have already determined that I have a focus problem. Why would this help?" Because when that timer goes off, you get a whole five-minute break to do what you want .

While five minutes don't sound as good as, say, the hours of recklessness you usually leave crazy with, after you've stopped your next 25 minutes, you get another five-minute break. And so on until you have completed four "Pomodoros" (the Italian word for "tomatoes", like in a tomato timer). After the fourth, instead of taking a five-minute break, take a little more time. You can choose – 15 minutes, 25 minutes … just don't make it too long.

The idea is to always have that break to look forward to, so that you can keep up the work. 25 minutes does not sound too bad if you know that you have an Instagram free time at the end of your life, especially when you are approaching the end of a fourth Pomodoro.

The eponymous Pomodoro tomato timer. Image via Amazon

Pomodoro apps

For this article I spent five days testing five free Pomodoro apps, giving each app a day of my time. I will say that some of these apps can be fully understood within five minutes, while I can imagine that it will take five days for others to really see the whole picture. That said, I am happy to share my findings with you and encourage you to spend some time testing one of the apps that appeal to you the most.

Day 1: Forest (Android)

The first app I tried was Forest for Android. Before some astute Forest fans have roasted me in the comments, yes, Forest is also available on iOS. Unlike Android, however, you have to pay for Forest on your iPhone, which is a shame. I would like to cover both versions of the app in this piece, but it's not uncommon to find free Android apps that offer counterparts in the iOS App Store.

But I stray. Forest on Android was really a unique way to start my Pomodoro journey. This is how it works. During every Pomodoro I would "plant" a tree. I started with a young tree and saw it grow slowly during my 25-minute session. Nice is not it? Here's the thing – if I left the app before the Pomodoro was over, the sapling would die . Poof, no extra lives, gone. I should live with the blood (juice?) On my hands and try another Pomodoro session in shame.

Betraying a Pomodoro does not have to be that dark. While my sapling would always die if I left the app, Forest gave me the option to donate a fixed amount each time a session was interrupted. That money would not only encourage me to stay at work (is that Twitter check really worth $ 5?), It goes directly to planting real trees in the places they need most.

So, if there was nothing else, I could feel a little better about cheating with my Pomodoros. Full openness, I didn't trust myself not to keep the app constantly out of muscle memory, so I didn't link any real money to it. False boom murder was more than enough of a motivator to keep me going.

Every time I finished a Pomodoro, I not only planted a tree, but also earned coins. These coins can be used to purchase various things in and out of the app. For example, I could use coins to buy new trees to plant for the forest, because you only start with one basic tree to choose from. However, I could also choose to plant coins in the real world, so I wouldn't think the only way to make an impact is to make my Pomodoro fail and pay out of my own pocket.

My 9 coins when finishing a Pomodoro (left); variety of trees locked behind the payment wall (right).

The power of the forest lies in the design and the mission. It's nice to keep Forest next to your workspace on and watch the cute animations as your tree grows. It helps to combat the temptation to switch to another app, and I got a visible benefit at the end of it all. It was great to work on a quick article as my tree grew, and my break became more peaceful by knowing that I brought this digital world to life.

Where Forest is not the strongest, is in more complicated use. I have several types of projects to work on all day. Some have irregular time estimates, such as researching and writing articles. Others are easier. Email, data entry and other similar tasks are split into 30-minute intervals, so I always know how long I spend on each of them.

For the latter, Forest was a no-brainer. Every Pomodoro almost takes care of my 30 minute tasks and once done there is a new tree! But for my more unpredictable tasks, Forest basically forced me to go somewhere else to keep track of what I was doing. I had to use a notes app to show how long that article finally cost me, even more if I was someone who wanted to keep track of how much Pomodoros costs a task.

All said and done, Forest is really fun and effective way to continue working. I could see myself using the app after the review, especially because one day wasn't enough to unlock more trees or to donate my coins to planting real ones. That said, I eventually grew 12 trees during my day!

Day 2: Focus To-Do (iOS & Android)

Let me just say it – Focus To-Do is the powerhouse of the Pomodoro apps. This is mainly because it is not a Pomodoro-exclusive app. Instead, Focus To-Do is a fully-fledged task management complete with folders, due dates, reminders, data graphs and reports. If complicated apps aren't your thing, you might want to avoid them.

Remember that my only problem with Forest was that I couldn't follow different tasks in the app? Focus To-Do is a completely different situation. The app gave me all the tools I needed to keep track of my various tasks. I could create different folders for as many categories of work as needed. Email, article heights, articles to do, data entry, these are all categories that I could work with. In each I could add my tasks to work on. For example, under a folder like "Articles To-Do", I could place all my assignments, like all five of my Pages 101 articles.

Day 3: Focus Keeper (iOS)

Day 3 showed me a way that was easier: Focus Keeper on iOS is a simple Pomodoro timer, with one nice advantage: the design goes back to iOS 7 in every way.

Seriously. Although the last six generations of iOS would all feel the same as identical to Apple & # 39; s initial trip out of suu morphism, view the images and videos of the original. It is very different . In many ways it is all in line. Back in iOS 7, a large part of the user interface was designed around thin lines. With Focus Keeper that recoil makes things interesting.

After the initial design, Focus Keeper may seem like your default timer setting. Pomodoros of 25 minutes, breaks of five minutes, breaks of 25 minutes. However, there is something more that makes it special. Focus Keeper is equipped with two ticking sounds, which I have uniquely assigned to my Pomodoro session, my short break and my long break.

At first I thought I would hate the ticking sound because I thought it would be more distracting than anything else. But it really worked for me. The ticking brought me into a groove and was almost hypnotic in a way. I was locked in my workflow and before I knew it, the timer went off. Ready to take five? The ticking was easy to mute, in case I didn't want to run it, but I really liked it .

Whether I was writing an article, catching up on news on smartphones or shooting an email, the ticking kept me focused. Here, too, I have not missed any specific tracking options. I couldn't help but think about how effective the complex task system of Focus To-Do was to keep my workload visible and organized. Still, I was blown away by the power of a simple tap.

The rest of the app's screen was easy to use. The giant timer at the top made it easy to check my progress, while the traditional timer below it would spin in real time. It was a cool effect, as if I had a physical timer in my workspace. Just like a real timer, you can change the time whenever I want by swiping the time wheel to the left or right. I could also tap the pause button to quickly take a break if necessary.

At the bottom I could see my overall progress in Pomodoro. "Round" would show how many Pomodoros I had completed at four, while "Target" had shown how many Pomodoros I had completed at 12. That was useful when I completed more than four Pomodoros because "Round" would reset every four Pomodoros. I had the option to reset the "Round" tracker or both "Round" and "Target" trackers at any time, if I felt that I wanted a new start. The desk helped motivate me because I could see my Pomodoro progress during the day.

If you pick up Focus Keeper and you look for more functions, you have to pay. Premium Focus Keeper users have access to custom Pomodoro sessions, color and theme options, data reports longer than three days and more ticking and alarm sounds. But you don't need these features to take advantage of Focus Keeper – it's a great Pomodoro app that doesn't try to break the mold to fit in. The unique user interface combined with effective tapping made it a pleasure to work with for day 3.

Day 4: Pomodoro Timer Lite (Android)

Day 4 started with an app that is not the nicest on this list. In fact, the design is a bit outdated. That said, I enjoyed the main attraction of Pomodoro Timer Lite: putting my current task at the forefront.

Don't get me wrong, we're not talking about Focus To-Do. Not even close. Instead of offering detailed task tracking, Pomodoro Timer Lite opts for a digital sticky note in the center of the screen. I type my current assignment or focus, and Pomodoro Timer Lite constantly reminds me of what I should be working on.

I admit that day four of using Pomodoro apps this sticky note solution was welcome, but I still missed the complicated system Focus To-Do offered back in day two. On the other hand, it was nice to see that one of the simple timer apps implemented a system to focus on a specific task.

Not only could I write on a sticky note from Pomodoro Timer Lite in a task, I could keep track of my Pomodoros via check marks that would appear at the bottom of the note. After four, the check marks would disappear, so not as complicated as the "goal" counter of Focus Keeper. They would also disappear if I changed my task, but the app reminded me how many Pomodoros I had completed. That way I was always on my way for my long vacation, no matter how many tasks I changed.

That was a huge advantage when working between projects. It would have been too much to spend three Pomodoro sessions on one Pages article and then restart the entire counter while working on the next one. No, Pomodoro Timer Lite was good to remind me to take that long break, even when I was just starting work on the next project.

On a different note, it's a great system for my various tasks. I didn't need to see any check marks from my short emails and data entry sessions. I preferred to use the timer to complete it in one go and then have the check marks restarted for the projects that would actually cover multiple Pomodoro sessions. That was useful.

Also included? A moving time wheel, and wait for it, ticks. I was very happy. Two ticking sounds to choose from (I preferred "Ticking 1", FYI) helped me get to work like Focus Keeper. Better still, keeping the task at hand via the sticky note was great, if not a bit simple. I could look at the timer to not only monitor my Pomodoro progress, but also see exactly what I should focus on. Did I change my mind without writing down the new one? A quick tap of the sticky note changed that.

Conclusions on Pomodoro and his apps

After spending a full working week with Pomodoro apps, I can see why the technology works . Promised downtime and relatively short work sessions are great motivations to stay on track. 25 minutes doesn't sound like a lot of time, but 25 minutes of pure productivity spread over a working day is a recipe for success.

Where I found the biggest challenge was keeping the timer itself. I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem with practice, but for someone who wasn't used to managing a productivity system all day, I'd work on an article if it touches me – I never took that 30-minute break minutes ago. Apps such as Donut Dog only contributed to that problem.

But that's the thing with Pomodoro, or any system that you try – it's not all or nothing. You do not have to follow religiously the 25 minutes, five minutes from nine to five. It's all about what works for you. As long as you stay productive, what difference does it make if you work beyond a Pomodoro or two?

For me, Focus To-Do was the most effective. It's just in a totally different class than the other apps. If you are looking for a simple Pomodoro timer, you don't need Focus To-Do. But I really enjoy the rich features of the app and found the organization's potential very useful to stay clear about what my daily tasks were.

At the end of the day, all these apps help you achieve your productivity goals with the help of their unique Pomodoro. Focus To-Do is a professional task manager, while Donut Dog is a silly, fun reminder to get back to work. It is really about what fits your work. I encourage you to try out all the apps yourself and see all the help you can use more than others.

This article was created during Gadget Hacks special news about the use of your smartphone to increase productivity. View the entire Productivity series.

Mis het niet: Productiviteitstips en -trucs om u slimmer, niet harder te laten werken

Coverafbeelding en screenshots van Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

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