Today is March 15, 2020, and we’re all trying to cope with Covid-19 prevention and treatment.

Many of our routines have been upturned by isolating ourselves from public and group activities, and as a result, we’re likely spending more time online. While the internet is offering some wonderful ways to stay connected, such as virtual recovery support meetings and free screenings of opera performances, it’s also brimming with overwhelming Covid-19 content, particularly via news and social media.

It can be difficult to set boundaries with our devices on a normal day. This is in part because social media platforms have been literally manufactured to function like gambling machines and provide our brains with hits of dopamine when we scroll. For that reason, it’s doubly important that we intentionally limit the amount of time we spend consuming content that can feel overwhelming, confusing, and triggering.

The Pomodoro method is one way that we can set boundaries around our use of tech. Developed in 1980 by Francesco Cirillo, this pulse and pause method invites us approach our labor with intention. The Pomodoro method has four steps:

  1. Choose an actionable task that you can achieve in 25 minutes.
  2. Labor on that specific task without distraction for 25 minutes.
  3. Take an intentional, short 5-minute break.
  4. In the traditional Pomodoro technique, you repeat that process three more times and then take an extended break for 15-30 minutes.

I love the Pomodoro method because it can enable us to track our progress on large scale, long-term projects via valuing focused labor sessions as checkmarks (i.e., “I did four Pomodoro sessions today, so it’s time to put this project back on the shelf until tomorrow!”). However, in our current context of social distancing, the Pomodoro method offers a unique benefit: taking 25-minute breaks from checking the news and social media. The benefits will be upped if you make a preemptive list of non-tech options for how to spend your 5-minute breaks, like stretching, eye gazing out a window, or doing breathing exercises.

While the Pomodoro method is often utilized to focus on intentional productivity during 25 minutes, such as writing or researching, I think right now we should also be trying 25 minutes of personal practices, such as yoga, meditation, reading, cooking, talking on the phone, building a puzzle. When your buzzer goes off to reward you with a break, don’t immediately open your phone. If you absolutely must check your tech, try to limit it to five minutes. For those of us using technology to do labor for hours on end, we can still apply the same “25 minutes away from Covid-19 content” rule.

You can find a ton of free and paid Pomodoro timers online, but my favorites are BeFocused for the iPhone (it syncs with Apple Watch!) and the TomatoTimer website for laptops. Please note that I’m not sponsored by these companiesI just like them! 🙂


This blog is not affiliated with, associated with, or endorsed by the Pomodoro Technique® or Francesco Cirillo.

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