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Neurodivergent Guide to the Pomodoro Technique

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The Pomodoro Technique - Saving the Day from Procrastination

Welcome to Misfit Refuge Counseling, where we're dedicated to providing support and strategies for a diverse range of individuals. In our pursuit of holistic well-being, we're excited to introduce you to a powerful time-management technique that can significantly enhance productivity and reduce stress: the Pomodoro Technique.

This is a technique that I use myself in an attempt to manage the chaotic superpower of my ADHD. While I can't call it 100% effective, it's gone a long way towards helping.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Developed by Francesco Cirillo late in the best decade for music (also known as the late 1980s), the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that encourages focused work in short, timed intervals. "Pomodoro" (Italian for tomato) comes from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Cirillo initially used. The technique has since gained popularity worldwide for its simplicity and effectiveness.

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Enhanced Focus: Breaking your work into 25-minute intervals (known as Pomodoros) followed by a short break can help maintain concentration and prevent burnout.

  • Increased Productivity: The structured approach encourages a sense of urgency, promoting efficiency and task completion.

  • Reduced Procrastination: The timer creates a sense of accountability, making it easier to overcome the temptation to procrastinate.

  • Improved Work-Life Balance: The technique incorporates regular breaks, fostering a healthier balance between work and personal life.

How to Implement the Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Choose a Task: Select a specific task or project you want to focus on.

  2. Set the Timer: Set a timer for 25 minutes (one Pomodoro). Use a physical timer, a Pomodoro app, or your phone's timer.

  3. Work Intensely: Concentrate on the task until the timer rings, signaling the end of the Pomodoro.

  4. Take a Short Break: Enjoy a 5-minute break to stretch, relax, or engage in a brief activity.

  5. Repeat: Repeat the cycle. After completing four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15–30 minutes.

Adapting the Pomodoro Technique for Neurodivergent Individuals:

Misfit Refuge Counseling recognizes and embraces neurodiversity. While I do love the Pomodoro Technique, I also find that there are times when I need to adapt it to my needs. While working with countless clients with this, I also have discovered that sometimes it doesn't work quite as prescribed. Here are ways to adapt the Pomodoro Technique for individuals with diverse cognitive and sensory needs:

  1. Flexible Time Intervals: The times for the cycles are suggested, but may be adapted to be either longer or shorter. Pay attention to your energy and adjust them accordingly. Note: Sometimes the challenge is working up to the time; sometimes it's permitting yourself to stop so that you can maintain your energy and focus over longer periods.

  2. Sensory Considerations: Gather your sensory supports as you work. Use noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, or other preferred sensory supports during work periods.

  3. Visual Cues: most of the Pomodoro literature suggests using an audio timer. For some neurodivergent folks, this can be jarring. Consider mixing up the timer to something more pleasant or substitute a blinking light or other visual cue.

  4. Task Choice: give yourself the flexibility to choose tasks based on your energy levels/types. Sometimes you might feel more creative; other times you might feel more administrative.

  5. Break Options: flex your break options, don't just continue sitting in place. Diversified break activities can include stretching breaks, sensory breaks, or other reset activities.

  6. Communication Preferences: When deciding on tasks, it might help to mix up how you track this. Some people prefer verbal, written, or pictorial instructions. Try them and see what works best for you.

  7. Mindfulness Techniques: Mindfulness isn't just a buzzword. There are many benefits to this for neurodivergent folks. It helps balance or focus our attention. During your break time, try deep breathing, sensory meditations, or other activities that promote relaxation.

  8. Personalized Goals: Many neurodiverse individuals can let a perfection mindset get in the way of finishing something (remember: "done is better than perfect"). If you are struggling with being a completionist, just make a goal to work for a certain time frame. For instance, writing for 25 minutes on a book chapter could be a more doable goal than finishing the chapter.

  9. Gradual Implementation: I love a new tool - but sometimes implementing it can get a little hectic. Don't think you need to rush out and use this for every problem you have - try it a few times and adjust the parameters as needed.

  10. Alternative Environments: Often, our environments can have a memory or association with them. If you have a difficult time focusing, try a different place in the house like a table or chair. Or try a different location altogether: a library, coworking station, or your favorite coffee house.


At Misfit Refuge Counseling, we believe that everyone deserves effective tools for achieving their goals. The Pomodoro Technique is a versatile and inclusive approach that aligns with our commitment to supporting individuals in their unique journeys towards improved well-being. Try integrating this technique into your daily routine and discover how it can positively impact your productivity and mental health. To help we've created a summary worksheet of this article and a 1-page Pomodoro tracker to try to help.

Worksheet for the Pomodoro Technique
Worksheet for the Pomodoro Technique

Tracking sheet for the Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Tracker (1)
Download PDF • 1.34MB

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