Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Picture this: You’re staring at a to-do list, a work task, or a school assignment, and you begin to feel like time is slipping through your fingers as you struggle to find the motivation to get started. The problem is that you can’t pull motivation out of thin air – it fuels itself, and it needs to start somewhere.

Motivation consists of these steps:

  • Desire or Goal: Motivation starts when you have something you want to achieve. It could be improving your grades, changing your diet, or learning a new skill.
  • Expectation of Reward: When you set a goal, you usually expect some sort of benefit from achieving it. If you want to earn better grades, the reward could be a sense of accomplishment, a scholarship, or praise from parents and teachers.
  • Taking Action: To reach that desired reward, you need to act. You need to do something to bring you closer to your goal, whether that means studying for exams or hitting the gym on a regular schedule.
  • Achieving Success: As you act, you make progress towards your goal. Witnessing that progress gives you a sense of accomplishment, which acts as a reward in itself, and further reinforces your motivation. This feeling propels you to keep going and move closer to your initial goal. This step boosts your motivation, and encourages you to set new goals, expect new rewards, take new actions, and achieve new successes.

So how do tomatoes fit into this motivational equation?

In the late 1980s, an Italian college student, Francesco Cirillo, came up with a highly effective time management technique involving his kitchen timer which was shaped as a pomodoro (“tomato” in English). He started by setting the timer for two minutes and focusing on the task at hand for the whole time, until the timer went off. He then rewarded himself with a short break. He called each period of focus time “a Pomodoro” and thus, The Pomodoro® Technique was born (Cirillo Consulting, 2011).

Cirillo then experimented with different time intervals for each “tomato” and determined that the most productive times for himself was: 25 minutes of focused work time followed by a 2–5-minute break. After completing 4 tomatoes, a longer break of about 15-30 minutes may be warranted.

This technique acts as a trusty sidekick for your motivation and productivity. By breaking your work into manageable intervals, you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. Instead, you’re fueled by a sense of accomplishment every time you complete a “tomato.” These regular breaks help to prevent burnout and keep your mind fresh.

In a world filled with distractions, The Pomodoro® Technique offers a playful yet effective way to regain control over your time and supercharge your productivity. Whether you’re a student juggling assignments, a professional drowning in a sea of emails, or a busy adult trying to conquer housework, consider trying a few tomatoes. You might just harvest a bounty of accomplishments!


Cirillo Consulting. (2011). The Pomodoro® Technique. The Pomodoro Technique.


Blog Post by Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counsellor, Alicia Totten


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