I Created The Best-Ever Pomodoro Timer, Just For You 🍅

“Egg timer in tomato shape for Pomodoro Technique”, by Marco Verch

I’m a horrible procrastinator.

So a while ago, I started using the “Pomodoro Technique”, where you set a timer for 25 minutes, and keep on working until the time is up. It worked pretty well — the Pomodoro creates an artificial mini-deadline, and I’m a writer, so I don’t do anything without a deadline.

But there was one big problem: Every app I used displays a big, vivid countdown of how much time was left.

For example, here’s what (clockwise from top right) Forest, Pomodor, Clockwork Tomato, Pomofocus, and Marinara Timer look like …

Look at that! Everyone has some huge read-out or dial or image showing the time … ticking … down.

I find this design awfully distracting. What winds up happening is:

  • I start the Pomodoro …
  • I flick over to Google Docs or whatever work I’m doing, but …
  • while I’m working I keep wondering hmmm, how much time is left on the timer? So …
  • I flip over to the app to check it out.

This continually breaks my concentration, which defeats the whole purpose of the Pomodoro technique, which is to concentrate!

The second big problem with most Pomodoro is that most of these timers default on a 25 minute work-period.

Twenty-five minutes?? That is, frankly, way too ambitious for me. If I’m in a deep slough of procrastination — where I’ve been avoiding serious work for hours, or even days — there is no way I’m going to suddenly be able to pull off 25 minutes of work. Nope. Not happening. Un-happening.

I prefer to start off with a much more modest goal of maybe five minutes. Hell, sometimes I’d be proud to do a single, solid minute of work. Then, fresh off the thrill of that MacArthur-Genuis-Grant-level accomplishment, I’ll gradually increase my time to, like, three minutes — until eventually I’m doing ten minutes at a time, like a rock star.

Now, most of these Pomodoro timers do have “settings” that let you pick your own time, so you’re not stuck with 25 minutes. But the settings are a pain in the butt to fiddle around with.

So I decided to just make my own Pomodoro timer that fits precisely my weird, gnarled design specs:

  • No visible countdown
  • Super-fast entry of whatever increment of time you want

I am a mediocre hobbyist coder, but fortunately this project was within my low-fi skillz.

So here it is … Text Pomodoro! 📖🍅⏳ (It’s hosted on Glitch, so follow that link to see it.)

Pure text, and nothing but. Type in how many minutes you want to work, as many — or as few. (You can work for .5 minutes; I’ve done it; be proud.) Hit “enter” and you’re off.

It doesn’t display any timer at all. When you’re done, it’ll play a cheery three-note sound to let you know 🎶. In the meantime, there’s no point flipping over to the tab, because you can’t tell how much longer there is to work. Just … keep working!

And when you’re done, you type in another bunch of minutes, hit enter, and go again. Bang bang bang bang bang bang.

No screwing around with options or settings. Just give it minutes and work until you hear the little melody.

(If you choose to allow notifications, I wrote a couple dozen cheery notifications so it congratulates you when you finish your timer.)

This is so bog-simple and quick-to-use that it has become my go-to tool for ending my procrastination.

Oh, and I hosted it on Glitch, so if you want to remix it — add whatever features you want — it’s easy. You can almost certainly improve my baggy, floppy code.

Have fun, and get to work!

Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, a columnist for Wired and Smithsonian magazines, and a regular contributor to Mother Jones. He’s the author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, and Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. He’s @pomeranian99 on Twitter and Instagram.



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Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson

I write 3X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”. @clive@saturation.social clive@clivethompson.net