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You Say Tomato, We Say Pomodoro: Time Management Supports Mental Health

Pomodoro Technique,

Do you know the old song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”? It was written by Ira and George Gershwin and has been performed by many artists over the years. (Our fave? The version by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.)

The song is built around the idea that quite a number of words can be pronounced in more than one way. The gimmick isn’t easy to suss out if you just read the lyrics:

You say either, I say either

You say neither and I say neither

Either, either, neither, neither

Let’s call the whole thing off, yes

One word that appears in the song is “tomato.” The singers grapple with whether it should be pronounced to-may-toe or to-mah-toe. For our conversation here in this blog, we offer a third option: Pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato.

Let’s consider something called the Pomodoro Technique and the ways in which it might support your mental health.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique—developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s—is built around the idea of “time boxing.” At its most basic level, the technique simply involves working on a task with your full attention for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After you complete that pattern four times, you take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. Following this pattern, the argument goes, will result in a big boost in your productivity and help you avoid task paralysis.

The name of the technique, by the way, seems to come from kitchen timers which are sometimes shaped like tomatoes. Happily, most any timer will do.

The technique sounds easy enough, though the devil is surely in the details. Among the trickiest is figuring out just how much time a given task might take so that you fit it appropriately into the Pomodoro schedule. Another challenge? Keeping distractions at bay—both during the work periods and the rest periods.

Truthfully, the Pomodoro Technique seems a bit overly rigid—a set of rules that can cause stress rather than relieve it. That said, there are some important ideas to take away from it.

Maybe Not the Whole Pomodoro But Some of its Flavor

The idea at the heart of the Pomodoro Technique seems sound enough. Working with intention and then intentionally taking breaks is a good strategy for being productive and for keeping stress and fatigue to a minimum. The breaks give you a chance to relax and recharge—and that is a good thing all around.

Of course, what you do during your breaks is pretty important. This list makes some great suggestions—including going for a walk, practicing mindfulness, and hydrating. Even more importantly, it seems to us, it includes a list of things you should not do during your Pomodoro break. 

Those no-nos probably won’t come as a big surprise. Your Pomodoro break should not include browsing the web or checking your social media. The content on the web and in your socials is designed to draw you in and hold your attention. You’ll lose time as you fall down these rabbit holes—and you won’t feel refreshed when you emerge. 

We encourage you to commit to taking several refreshing breaks throughout your day. If the details of the Pomodoro Technique work for you, that’s great. But even if they don’t, the flavor or those details can permeate your work routine in ways that are beneficial to your overall mental well-being.

Don’t Call the Whole Thing Off. Call Us Instead.

Are you struggling with a mental health issue like depression, anxiety, or a disorder that stems from trauma? That experience can feel extremely isolating, and it can be difficult to know just what to do. Some people try to behave as though nothing is wrong. Others turn to drugs or alcohol. And some just seem to give up entirely on the idea of building the kind of life they would like to have.

There is another option. At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are committed to helping individuals who are battling with mental health disorders. We do this with personalized care grounded in evidence-based practices in combination with our expertise and experience. We can help you experience improved mental health and provide you with the strategies, resources, and support that will help you maintain and build upon those gains.

Mental health disorders are treatable, and Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care.

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