The Pomodoro Technique ADHD Edition

Valeri Gervaziev
9 mins read
May 9, 2023

Do you ever find yourself staring at a never-ending to-do list and feeling so overwhelmed that you struggle to even start?

If you have ADHD - task paralysis, ADHD overthinking, and time blindness team up in a "lovely" cocktail of terribleness that makes getting things done a consistent daily struggle.

If that sounds familiar, the "Pomodoro Technique ADHD edition" might be just what you need!

The Pomodoro method is popular time management strategy that involves breaking down tasks into 25-minute bursts of focused work, followed by 5-minute breaks.

It works like magic for people with ADHD, as it breaks down tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and helps mitigate ADHD paralysis, time blindness, hyperfocus, and procrastination.

Time to be productive and never starting gif
Doing nothing when having soooo much to do

The Pomodoro method allows you to concentrate on one task at a time and avoid counterproductive multitasking.

Studies have supported its effectiveness in promoting deep work and reducing burnout and boredom, making it a valuable tool for enhancing productivity.

Its simplicity and versatility have contributed to its widespread

In summary ✍️:

  • What is the Pomodoro Technique, and why is it so popular
  • How and why it works so well, especially for adults with ADHD
  • How to adapt it for ADHD and supercharge it with body doubling

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, is a highly effective time management and productivity strategy. 

It involves working in a short, focused time burst (known as Pomodoro), followed by a brief break before starting the process again.

The name "Pomodoro" was inspired by the tomato-shaped timer Francesco used to monitor his work intervals while studying at the University of Rome.

The technique involves working in 25-minute focused, deep work intervals, followed by a five-minute break before starting a new sprint. 

An extended break of 15 to 30 minutes is recommended after four Pomodoro intervals. 

This method lets you get things done without feeling overwhelmed or distracted by other tasks.

It encourages you to break down tasks into smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time avoiding anxiety and feeling trapped by large projects and goals.

The Pomodoro Technique is simple to apply yet incredibly effective. 

You can expect noticeable improvements in your work or study process within a day or two.

Still, true mastery of the technique takes seven to twenty days of constant use.

Why is it so Popular?

The Pomodoro Technique has gained widespread popularity as a productivity tool, with over 1.8 million people using it globally.

Pomodoro and time blocking is a favourite hack for some of the world's most productive people, including Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Tim Ferriss

The technique's effectiveness and popularity lie in its simplicity, effectiveness and flexibility. 

Getting into it is easy - you don't need much to start.

It's highly adaptable, as users can customize the time intervals to suit their needs and add or remove tasks from their list as necessary.

Why Does the Pomodoro Technique Work so Well?

The Pomodoro Technique is based on the principles of monotasking, which means focusing on one task at a time instead of trying to juggle multiple to-dos at once. 

Studies have shown that multitasking is ineffective. Shifting between tasks can cause brief mental blocks that cost as much as 40% of your productive time.

Multitasking can even slow down cognitive processes and increase stress levels. Chronic multitasking can decrease the grey matter density in parts of your brain, making you a little dumber! 

The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London found that emailing or looking at social media while talking on the phone lowers your IQ more than losing a night's sleep, smoking cannabis, or watching hours of mindless television. 

In contrast, monotasking with the Pomodoro Technique helps keep your focus on one specific task at a time, making it easier to get into a state of deep work and flow faster. 

It allows you to achieve more in less time. 

It also encourages short breaks, which help you recharge and reduce feelings of burnout or boredom. 

The Pomodoro Technique for ADHD

The Pomodoro Technique is a powerful tool, especially for people with ADHD who struggle with time management, ADHD paralysis, overwhelm, time blindness and hyperfocus.

It works so well by breaking tasks down into short intervals of focused work. The technique provides structure and a time-restricted framework, making it easier to deal with time blindness and helping avoid hyperfocus.

It also provides extra motivation to get started on tasks. 

Breaking down your to-do list into manageable bits makes it easier to overcome procrastination and is ideal for those who tend to put things off to the last minute. 

The Pomodoro method makes it easier to start tasks that might otherwise feel overwhelming and create anxiety.

The time limit also reduces hyperfocus and prevents the inevitable burnout that follows.

Different interval durations work better for different people. 

Some of us take longer to get into a flow state, so we need more than the standard 25-minute work interval. 

Others might benefit from shorter work intervals followed by brief breaks of only one or two minutes. 

Modifying the session duration is essential to make the most of the method, especially for those with ADHD.

Does Pomodoro Technique Work for ADHD?

Yes, the Pomodoro method could work exceptionally well for many adults with ADHD.

Breaking down tasks, working in short, intense bursts, and having time restrictions all help alleviate core aspects of ADHD.

The technique helps increase motivation, limit distractions, and improve executive function. It also mitigates ADHD task paralysis, time blindness, overwhelm, and hyperfocus.

The Pomodoro sessions give us a clear signal to start (and stop) working and help us focus and concentrate on one task at a time.

Structuring tasks into short bursts of focused work and breaking them down into small, manageable chunks reduces overwhelm and anxiety and makes starting and staying on task easier. 

And the time boundaries and limits prevent us spending too much time on a single activity, helping reduce time blindness and unproductive hyperfocus. 

Completing a successful Pomodoro session can also boost motivation (and dopamine) and give us a boost to keep going throughout the day.

Benefits of the Pomodoro Method

Improved Focus And Energy 🔋

One of the most significant benefits of the Pomodoro technique is how it structures breaks to help you rest more than you would otherwise. 

Regular breaks help reduce fatigue and maintain a consistent focus and productivity throughout the day, leading to better results.

Wave goodbye to the feeling of being overwhelmed or burned out.

Productive Monotasking & State of Flow 👩💻

The short, concrete tasks of the Pomodoro method are the sole focus of your attention for a block of time.

This encourages monotasking and helps you avoid distractions and task-switching that kills productivity.

Multitasking doesn't work, and Pomodoro is a great way to find flow and focus in our highly distracted world.

Helps in Fight Against Procrastination 🧠

We all know the feeling of dread before starting a big project - it can be overwhelming and intimidating, making it difficult to even begin.

The beauty of the Pomodoro method is that it forces you to break your projects into small tasks.

That's where the Pomodoro technique comes in. By breaking down your projects into small, achievable tasks, you get started more easily and build momentum over time.

With each Pomodoro, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going.

Suddenly, that big, daunting project becomes much more manageable, and you find yourself making progress faster than you ever thought possible.

How to get started?

Follow these seven simple steps to get started.

Step 1: Break down tasks

...into smaller, more manageable bits that can be completed within the 25-minute Pomodoro limit.

Step 2: Set realistic goals 

...for each session to stay motivated without feeling frustrated or disappointed.

Step 3: Pick one task

This is a crucial step because it helps you avoid distractions and multitasking. Starting with just one to-do item to build momentum.

Step 4: Start the timer 

Work on your one task until it goes off. You can adjust the time intervals to suit your preferences.

Step 5: Avoid distractions 

ADHD and social media don't mix well.

Stay away from email, social media, and other websites that can tempt you from your work. Consider using website and app blockers to help you stay on track.

Step 6: Take a 5-minute break

Stretch, drink water and avoid attention-draining activities (such as social media). The five minutes should restore your energy, not drain it. 

Taking a break gif
Taking a break is essential

Step 7: Repeat

Go through these steps four times. Once done, take an extended break to recharge.

Step 8: Experiment

Try different interval durations and see what works for you. In the context of ADHD what works for some might not work for all - we are all unique!

How to Modify the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD?

The method might require minor modifications to accommodate for ADHD and to fit your work style and preferences. The beauty of the technique is that it is super flexible and can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. 

Some people might need more time to shift into focus, and the typical 25-minute work interval might need to be increased (to 60 or even 90 minutes).

For others, shorter intervals (or mini Pomodoros of 5-10 minutes with a 3-minute break) are more effective. You can always reduce your Pomodoro intervals if you struggle to focus or have a tough day. 

It ultimately depends on what works best for you, what fits your work style, and your ADHD experience.  

So don't hesitate to experiment and modify the method as you see fit.

Supercharge Pomodoro with ADHD Body Doubling

Jacked up spongebob
Online coworking is the Pomodoro technique on steroids

If you need extra focus and motivation, ask a body double to Pomodoro with you.

ADHD body doubling is doing a task in the presence of another person (or people). 

Deepwrk's ADHD body doubling app can boost motivation and make even the most tedious tasks seem more enjoyable and less overwhelming. 

It is similar to the Pomodoro technique in many ways.

For example, it utilizes time blocking, goal setting, timeboxing and monotasking to help you avoid Procrastination, reduce overwhelm and stay productive.

However, unlike Pomodoro, body doubling sessions are typically longer (e.g. 60, 90, 120 minutes). 

Body doubling adds gentle social accountability, community and support to your Pomodoro sessions.

Your body double partners don't actively help, engage or interfere with your tasks. They are silent, passive accountability partners that exist in your environment.

Sharing your tasks with others and knowing someone will check on you at the end makes the experience far more engaging and productive than the original Pomodoro technique.  

ADHD body doubling online is essentially the Pomodoro technique on steroids.

How Long Should the Pomodoro Intervals be for Adults with ADHD?

Real tomatoes come in all shapes and why not Pomodoros.

Interval length ultimately depends on what works for you. Some people need more time to get into a state of focus and concentration - so longer intervals of 50, 75, 90 minutes work best.

Others might find this overwhelming and if you have a bad day you might prefer mini-Poms of 5-10mins followed by a short break. 

Where to start? If you are new to Pomodoro, you can try the original 25-minute work interval first and then adjust up and down to fit your needs.

Can the Pomodoro Technique be used to manage ADHD distractibility?

Yes, the Pomodoro technique promotes monotasking. It tethers you to the goal at hand. 

The short, intense bouts of work help maintain focus and engagement. 

Setting a timer allows you to stay on task and avoid distractions and Procrastination.

What are some recommended Pomodoro apps for ADHD?

We love Tiimo. It's a daily planner visualizing time (imagine Pomodoro integrated with your to-do list).

Llama Life is another excellent, playful, visual Pomodoro timer that works exceptionally well for people with ADHD.

But probably the perfect Pomodoro timer is the Forest app, which combines visual interface with gamification. Don't let your tree die!

Deepwrk is our own ADHD accountability partner app.

It integrates Pomodoro with body doubling to add gentle social accountability and ADHD coworking for an additional layer of motivation and focus.

See how the ADHD body doubling app works here.

Looking for more apps and pomodoro-related products? Check out our article with the 20 best ADHD productivity tools and apps.

How to deal with interruptions during a Pomodoro session? 

Make sure you put your phone away before each session. Set it aside (even in a different room), put it on silent and use a manual timer.

If ideas and thoughts distract you during a Pomodoro session, note them down on a piece of paper and get back to them later.

And if someone tries to distract you, let them know you are in a middle of a focus session.


If you have ADHD, The Pomodoro Technique is a simple yet effective method for managing time blindness, hyperactivity, overwhelm and task paralysis.

It is based on principles of monotasking and time blocking to help you focus on one task at a time.

It's also highly adaptable and customizable, making it a valuable productivity tool.

Body doubling can help you supercharge the Pomodoro method by adding another layer of motivation, social accountability and focus.

Looking for physical products that can help you better manage ADHD? We got you - check out our article with the best ADHD products and gadgets.

Try Pomodoro on steroids with a body doubling session from Deepwrk.
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Valeri Gervaziev
Valeri is the Founder and CEO of Deepwrk, a body doubling platform for ADHD adults to focus, escape distractions and achieve more, together. He spent 10 years in investment banking, most recently at Morgan Stanley, advising on $15Bn+ worth of M&A transactions and helping industrial tech companies raise $9Bn+ of capital. Valeri is also an author and neurodiversity advocate passionate about mindful productivity.