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I was wondering about the default duration of a pomodoro (25 minutes). In the PDF on the Pomodoro technique it says

The length of a Pomodoro, 25 minutes, seems short enough to make it possible to resist being distracted by various kinds of interruptions.

This seems to suggest that 25 minutes is just a random duration taken by the author which happens to work for him and which many people now seem to use. Are there any scientific studies that indicate that 25 minutes is the optimal time (for most people and most tasks) for a pomodoro?

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25mins duration is not the best in Scientific dimention. But you should not forget that things that block you to complete your tasks are interruptions. 25mins is not too long for any interruptions to wait. It increase your capability to manage your interruptions. –  Amp Tanawat Dec 23 '12 at 16:39

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is a bit of a negative answer I'm afraid, but I think it's better than keeping you hanging.

In terms of science, only two papers on google scholar actually reference the classic pomodoro work -( http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cites=8858932484710019383&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5&hl=en ) and neither is experimental so I expect there simply hasn't been any scientific work on the subject.

So I'm afraid you're going to get a very general answer, which is: do whatever works for you, and experiment to see if you get it right...

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Thanks for your response. You may be right. I googled a bit and haven't been able to find much so far. –  THelper Oct 18 '12 at 7:09

It says in the book that they've experimented with it and found it as the ideal duration. Exact quote from the book:

Note In various work groups which experimented with the Pomodoro Technique in mentoring activities, each team was allowed to choose the length of their own Pomodoro on the condition that this choice had to be based on observations regarding effectiveness. Generally, the teams started off with hour-long Pomodoros (25 minutes seemed too short at first), then moved to 2 hours, then down to 45 minutes, then 10, till they finally settled on 30 minutes.

Since they've been using the Pomodoro technique for a few years, I assume that it's the tried and true ideal length.

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I think you have to factor into this how many Pomodoro's you're going to want to do in a day plus when and how long your breaks (shorter ones and longer ones) are going to be - and quite possibly how much of a procrastinator you are.

If my Pomodoros were always one hour long, I'd probably delay starting them as long as I could as the prospect of one hour of concentrated work on a boring / repetitive tasks seems daunting. However, if it's only 25 minutes, you can look forward to the 5 minute break you are soon going to enjoy...

So if I had a window of two hours I could work in and went with two 1-hour Pomodoros, procrastination might result in me getting less work done compared with 25-minute Ps with more break time in between.

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I've seen references here and there to 45 minutes being the conclusion of some studies (or "recent research") on the optimal amount of time to focus before concentration starts to wane.

Eg, http://www.simge.edu.sg/idc/groups/wellness_and_counselling/documents/downloadable_file/idcpub003047.pdf

I'm still hunting for an actual citation!

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