Agile Time Management: Time-boxing and Pomodoro

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Agile Time Management: Time-boxing and Pomodoro

Do you sometimes feel the pressure when your to-do list becomes overwhelming? Introducing agile time management techniques, such as Time-boxing and Pomodoro, can be key to dealing effectively with daily challenges. Today, we will take a closer look at these two methodologies and how they can be effectively implemented in both your professional and personal life.

Time-boxing: Focus on the goal, not the time

Time-boxing is a flexible time management technique rooted in agile management principles. It involves allocating a specific, limited amount of time to a specific task or project, with no possibility of exceeding this limit. The main objective is to focus on achieving the intended goal within the set time, leading to increased efficiency, reduced task duration and avoidance of information overload.

How to introduce time-boxing

Define Objectives - define what you want to achieve in a given time. It is useful to formulate objectives in a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) manner.

  • Instead of a general goal, try to be precise about what you want to achieve. The more specific the goal, the easier it is to maintain focus.
  • Add an element to assess whether the goal has been achieved. Measurability provides a clear indication of progress.
  • Make sure the goal is realistic to achieve. Avoid setting tasks that are beyond your reach, which can lead to frustration.
  • Make sure the goal is important and relevant to larger life or career goals. Avoid tasks that do not deliver value.
  • Set a specific deadline for completing the task. A set time motivates you to take action and helps avoid procrastination.

Allocate Specific Time - once the objectives have been defined within the time-boxing technique, the key step is to allocate specific time to achieve them. This task requires flexibility and adaptation to the variety of task types that may exist. How do you adapt time to the type of task?

  • Short assignments

If you are faced with a task that only requires quick attention and simple tasks, consider allocating a short period of time. Twenty-five minutes may be an ideal choice. This is enough time to focus on the task while avoiding feeling overwhelmed.

  • Medium Tasks

Tasks of medium complexity and scope may require a longer period of time. Around 1 hour can be an effective time, allowing for a deeper dive into the topic without losing focus.

  • Long-term Projects

Long-term projects that require a longer commitment can be effectively time-boxed for longer periods, such as 2 hours. This allows you to focus on a specific phase of the project, while allowing enough time to develop it.

Eliminate distractions - eliminating distractions is a key element of effective time-boxing. Creating a work environment that is free of distractions promotes focus on the goal and increased productivity. Here are some steps you can take to effectively eliminate distractions before time-boxing. How do you eliminate distractions?

  • Turn off notifications - before the time-box starts, turn off any notifications on electronic devices. This includes text messages, emails, social notifications and any other alerts that may distract you.
  • Close the door - if possible, close the door of your room to minimise distractions from your surroundings. This will protect you from unexpected conversations or noise.
  • Set sound triggers - use sounds created to help you concentrate, such as white noise, wordless music or nature sounds. This can help to drown out surrounding sounds and bring you into a zone of focus.
  • Clear your workspace - make sure your workspace is tidy and organised. The lack of chaos around makes it easier to focus on the task at hand, eliminating potential visual distractions.

Why Time-boxing helps

Focus on the Effect - When you know you have limited time, you focus more on achieving the goal than on the activity itself. This helps you avoid distracting thoughts.

Increase Productivity - Limiting your time to a specific task forces you to use every moment effectively. You don't allow yourself to be distracted.

Avoiding perfectionism - Time-boxing also helps you avoid the trap of perfectionism. Since you have a limited amount of time, you force yourself to perform, even if everything is not perfect.

Introducing Time-boxing takes some practice, but over time it becomes a habit that translates into increased productivity and better use of time. It's not just a tool, but a mindset that leads to more focused, purposeful work.

Pomodoro technique: work rhythm for increased efficiency

The Pomodoro technique is an innovative approach to time management that involves working in short, intense periods of time, known as 'pomodoros'. We provide more detailed guidance on how to implement this technique and its benefits

How to Implement the Pomodoro Technique

Set a stopwatch. Why setting a stopwatch for 25 minutes is effective:

  • Creating time pressure - short pomodoro times create time pressure, motivating you to focus on the essence of the task. This makes the work more intense and productive.
  • Optimal concentration time - 25 minutes is about how long most people are able to maintain a high level of concentration. Optimal working time allows you to use your mind effectively without losing focus.
  • Easier to break procrastination - setting a short time period helps to overcome resistance to starting a task. By starting with 25 minutes, it is easier to break procrastination and start work.

Break - aims to restore energy, improve your ability to focus and generally refresh your mind. Here's how to make the most of this short break:

  • Get away from the Screen - take yourself away from your workspace and away from your computer screen. Looking at a monitor for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue, and taking a moment to look away will help you relax.
  • Short Stretching or Exercise - use your break time to do short stretching exercises or simple physical activities. This will help to relax your muscles and improve blood circulation.
  • Take a Short Walk - If possible, take a short walk around the office or around the outside environment. Fresh air and movement will help to oxygenate the brain, which in turn will improve energy levels.
  • Change Mind - Engage in something completely different from the work you are doing. This could be a short conversation with a colleague, reading a few pages of a book, or listening to your favourite music. Taking a moment away from your tasks will allow your mind to regenerate.


After completing the first pomodoro, repeat this cycle three times, doing four 25-minute blocks of work together, with 5-minute breaks in between. This allows you to focus on different aspects of the task and divide the work effectively.
After four pomodoros, grant yourself a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. This is time to rest and recover more fully before the next cycle. A longer break helps to reduce fatigue and allows for a more comprehensive break. There is some flexibility as to the length of time spent working and taking breaks during a Pomodoro cycle.
Some people prefer shorter breaks between pomodoros, others longer. Adjust the time to suit your own needs and observe what combination works best for you. Before starting the cycle, identify tasks that you can focus on for one pomodoro. This will allow you to plan effectively and move between different areas of work during the cycle.

Why the Pomodoro Technique is Effective

Short work intervals help to maintain high concentration on the task. Stopwatch support creates an atmosphere of time rigour, forcing intense focus.

5-minute breaks act as a quick energy boost. They allow you to de-stress and relax, resulting in improved efficiency.

Using the Pomodoro technique helps to overcome procrastination. A task seems more achievable when it is broken down into short, structured stages.

Working in cycles with breaks allows productivity to remain high for longer periods of time. The right amount of breaks counteracts fatigue and monotony, improving productivity.

Introducing the Pomodoro technique requires some time to adjust to the rhythm, but after a few days it becomes a natural way of working. Regular use of this time management approach brings noticeable benefits in terms of increased focus, improved efficiency and reduced stress associated with task overload.

Integrate both methods for maximum efficiency

Time management is not just about choosing one method. Often the best results are achieved by combining different techniques. For example, using Time-boxing to determine how long to work on specific tasks and at the same time using the Pomodoro technique during this time can achieve excellent results.

Introducing agile time management techniques takes time and practice, but their effectiveness can be significant. Discover which method works best for you, adapt it to your needs and enjoy increased productivity and better time management. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve more while maintaining a work-life balance. Applying these techniques can be a key step towards effective time management and reducing time pressure stress.

About The Author
Izabela Węgrecka

Izabela is a Project Manager and Scrum Master with 6 years of experience in the IT industry. She has experience in leading diverse projects and effectively managing teams. She's a leader with the ability to create cohesive and efficient teams based on Scrum values. Regardless of the project's scale, she's able to establish a dynamic environment where collaboration, innovation, and delivering valuable products take precedence.