The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity system that helps you take the right number of breaks while still getting your work done. Traditionally, it breaks up your day into 25-minute focus sessions followed by five-minute breaks. It's the perfect length of time for soaking up knowledge and getting things done—without burning out.
A dedicated Pomodoro app removes the need to divide up your day manually—instead, it tells you exactly when to work and when to take a short break. Here's a brief look at how the technique works, along with our picks for the 10 best Pomodoro timer apps.
The 10 best Pomodoro timer apps
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
In college, final exam season prompts a two-week-long cram session. Everyone has their own tales of studying all night, downing dangerous levels of caffeine, and rubbing their eyes at lecture notes. But after a while, extra studying doesn't really help; you're reading the same material, but your brain is so zapped that you won't retain anything.
That's what Francesco Cirillo discovered during his first year of college. After realizing he was getting distracted and not using his study time efficiently, he grabbed a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes, and tried working solidly for those 10 minutes without doing anything else. And it worked—forcing himself to focus before rewarding himself with a break helped him get more done, even with the break time.
With more testing and tweaking, Cirillo settled on a structured framework for what he called the Pomodoro Technique (named after the Italian word for "tomato," in reference to his original kitchen timer). The final technique is just about as simple as his original idea: you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks (usually 25 minutes) separated by a short, usually five-minute break. After four consecutive working time blocks, you take a longer break, around 20 or 30 minutes.
Each 25-minute work block is called a "pomodoro." If you feel the urge to do something other than work during a focus period, make a note of it. Over time, you'll train yourself to be more productive during each pomodoro.
The benefits of the Pomodoro Technique come from the frequent breaks, which help your mind stay fresh. The focused time blocks also force you to adhere to fixed limits, so you'll be encouraged to complete a task more quickly, or—in the case of a large task—spread it out over a number of pomodoros.
The length of working and break times can vary depending on what you prefer, but here's the basic process:
Start a 25-minute timer
Work until the timer rings
Take a short, five-minute break
Every four pomodoros (focus periods), take a longer break—usually 20-30 minutes
Because the whole technique centers around timing your focus periods and breaks, it helps to rely on a Pomodoro timer app to keep you on track and focused throughout the day.
What makes a great Pomodoro timer app?
As we compiled this list of the best Pomodoro timer apps, we narrowed down our recommendations according to the following criteria:
Extra features. It's not hard to find a timer app, so ideally, you want a Pomodoro app that offers extra features that enhance the basic concept of the Pomodoro Technique. We've focused on apps that do more than simply count down the time between breaks, with apps that provide more efficient ways of managing your time and your tasks.
Ease of use. The whole point of the Pomodoro Technique is that it's simple to understand. Any competent Pomodoro app should be similarly simple to use and take seconds to figure out and master. All the apps we've selected are intuitive and won't take you long to get up and running.
Integration with other apps and services. Odds are that you use a number of productivity apps to work more effectively and keep on top of what needs doing. It's useful to be able to use the Pomodoro Technique in conjunction with other tools like Todoist, Evernote, Trello, Zapier, or simply between your PC and your smartphone.
Stat tracking. Psychologically, it's great to feel like you've accomplished something. Extensive statistic tracking means you can hold yourself accountable and look back at how you've worked over recent days, weeks, and months. We've focused on apps that show you exactly how you've performed, thereby motivating you to work smarter in the future.
Affordability. You get what you pay for is a maxim that continues to hold true. Not all of the Pomodoro apps we've included here are 100% free, but they're all worth paying a little to get the most from them. The majority allow you to try out the services and check that the app feels like the best fit for you. None of the included apps are prohibitively expensive if you choose to purchase a premium version or plan.
If the Pomodoro Technique sounds like something you'd like to try—or if you're just tired of using a kitchen timer to tackle it—here are the 10 best Pomodoro timer apps to consider.
The best Pomodoro app for integrating the Pomodoro Technique with other apps
PomoDoneApp (Web, Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android)
PomoDoneApp is designed for folks already working on making their life more organized. The moment you load the app, it offers native integrations with popular task management tools including Trello, Wunderlist, Asana, Basecamp, Todoist, and more. It takes seconds to import your to-do lists and other tasks, meaning you can get straight to managing your time better. If you don't already use one of these tools, you can still easily add your tasks directly in PomoDoneApp.
You can adjust how long each session and break is, and PomoDoneApp allows for automatic switching between pomodoros and breaks, so you don't have to keep an eye on the time. Being able to switch between different lists according to the task management app you've integrated is particularly convenient too.
It's a highly personalized service that makes you feel in control of what needs doing, right down to being able to set different pomodoro lengths for each task without having to dive into the Preferences menu.
PomoDoneApp also features extensive reporting options, allowing you to filter your data and share logs with others. A Chrome extension means you can swiftly block certain websites during your focus period too, helping you avoid a sneaky check of social media or news sites.
PomoDoneApp also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically create a Google Calendar event when your PomoDoneApp timer ends or change your Slack status automatically when a new timer starts.
PomoDoneApp Price: Free for the Starter plan, which includes two native integrations and one month of data in reports; from $2.29/month for premium plans, which support more native integrations and longer periods of access to reports.
The best Pomodoro app for combining Kanban with Pomodoro
PomoDoneApp is great if you're already using a Kanban tool like Trello or MeisterTask, but if you're not, it doesn't make sense to manage two separate systems to get the combined Kanban and Pomodoro features. Instead, check out KanbanFlow.
KanbanFlow is effectively a Kanban board with a Pomodoro timer built-in. That means all the benefits of a Kanban app, with the unique ability to manage time-tracking via initiating pomodoros directly from tasks on your board.
Just hit the timer button on any task, and you can choose to start a pomodoro or a stopwatch timer. It takes seconds to get started, and you can even adjust how long the timer runs for depending on the task. KanbanFlow offers useful statistics on all your activities, so you can monitor your own productivity over time.
As a bonus, KanbanFlow offers a Zapier integration, which you can use to do things like create a KanbanFlow task directly from a new Google Calendar event or automatically send a Slack message when a KanbanFlow task is moved to a different part of a board.
KanbanFlow Price: Free for unlimited tasks and boards, the Pomodoro timer, and productivity reports; from $5/user/month for the Premium plan, which includes file attachments, priority support, and third-party integrations, including Zapier.
The best Pomodoro app for a web-based Pomodoro timer experience
It's not always convenient or possible to install new apps to your PC or Mac—when that's the case, a web-based Pomodoro timer can be useful. There are plenty of options out there, but Pomodor was the best one we tested. It's incredibly simple, which means it's not exactly stylish, but it offers everything you need.
You can add labels to your timers, which ensures that your tasks are stored appropriately within the stats section of the site. It's also possible to adjust the times quite extensively. Tied into that, it's possible to increase how many Pomodoro rounds you participate in before an extended break—a feature that not all Pomodoro timers offer. When it comes to statistics, Pomodor also provides insight into when your most productive days are and evaluates how you're performing compared to previous weeks.
It's not possible to skip or complete a task early, unfortunately, but that's a relatively small downside to this well-rounded web-based Pomodoro timer.
Pomodor Price: Free, with donations to the site designer recommended.
The best Pomodoro app for building good habits
FocusList (Mac, iOS)
Most people appreciate a straightforward list of what needs doing. Even better is a list that also comes with a rough idea of how long each task will take. That's precisely what FocusList provides, along with comprehensive Pomodoro timer features so you have the best chance of staying focused throughout your day.
FocusList might look a little basic, but it takes seconds to add things to your list for the day, including an idea of how long you think each task will take. Hit the Start Working button, and the app kicks off the pomodoro and breaks.
It's not possible to set up FocusList for multiple days in a row, so you'll need to spend a little time each morning getting things in order for the day. But I actually really liked that—it works quite well for preparing your brain for the coming day. It's still possible to edit pomodoro lengths by the minute as well as complete them early, so FocusList feels pretty flexible.
A simple yet effective ring-style stats section shows you how well you've performed each day, giving you encouragement to keep it up. It's the ideal way to make you feel good about building new habits and sticking to the Pomodoro technique.
FocusList Price: $4.99 one-off flat fee via the App Store.
The best Pomodoro app for teams looking to complete pomodoros together
Marinara Timer (Web)
Marinara Timer keeps things simple and straight to the point. It's web-based, and doesn't even require you to sign up to anything, but you can still use it to share timers with other people on your work team. At its simplest, you can choose between three timer options: Pomodoro, Custom, and Kitchen. The Pomodoro timer is as expected, with options for the default 25/5-minute timers. Custom mode allows you to customize timer lengths to suit your needs, while Kitchen mode is a standard timer—set a time limit, and away it goes.
Where Marinara gets far more interesting is its ability to share timers. You're given a unique URL for each timer, so you can easily share it with others. Whether you're teaming up with a buddy or your whole department, you can easily hold each other accountable as you work. There's a choice of an administrator link or a viewer link, with the former able to start or stop the timer as needed.
Marinara Timer Price: Free
Best Pomodoro timer for those undecided on the Pomodoro Technique
Pomotodo (Web, Windows, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android)
Pomotodo is part to-do list app, part Pomodoro timer. It all comes under the umbrella of the productivity technique Getting Things Done (GTD®), and it's ideal if you're not entirely sold on the idea of a timer ruling your working life.
Through the app, you can set up a series of to-dos for each day and add tags to categorize them or simply drop them into priority order. Once that's done, you can activate the Pomodoro timer, which will monitor your focus sessions and breaks. It works well as an in-between solution for two core productivity techniques. You don't have to use both at once either: you can always use it just as a timer or just as a to-do list.
You also get extensive stat tracking with a Goals section that works much like the Apple Watch's exercise rings, highlighting where your best days are in the week. Upgrade to the Pro version, and you can sync with Google Calendar for added convenience.
Pomotodo Price: Free for the basic plan, which includes a to-do list and Pomodoro timer; $3.90/month for the Pro plan, which includes recurring to-dos, goals, and customized timer durations.
The best Pomodoro app for freelancers who work with multiple clients
focus booster (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)
If you're a freelancer regularly working with many different clients, it's important to be able to keep up to date with where you're spending the bulk of your time. That's where Focus booster is one of the best Pomodoro timer apps out there. With its Professional plan, you can use it as a time-tracking app as well as a Pomodoro timer, keeping track of where your efforts are most spent among your clients.
Focus booster takes seconds to figure out and has a minimalist style that suits more professional scenarios. It has all the core components you need, such as the ability to adjust the length of your pomodoros and your breaks. The moment you finish a focus session, the time is attributed to the relevant client, even if you don't finish the full pomodoro. It's a great way of tracking every minute and attributing it to the right client.
A Reports dashboard instantly shows you a snapshot of your timesheet along with revenue for selected dates, even allowing you to download detailed CSV reports for simpler invoicing. The Reports dashboard requires a web-based interface that isn't as slick as the app, but it's a small price to pay for an otherwise great interface for juggling multiple clients.
Focus booster Price: Free for the Starter plan, which includes up to 20 pomodoros/month; $2.99/month for the Individual plan, which includes up to 200 pomodoros/month; $4.99/month for the Professional plan, which includes unlimited pomodoros, client tracking, and data export functionality.
The best Pomodoro app for simple time management on Apple devices
Be Focused (macOS, iOS)
Be Focused taps into what's most appealing for many Apple users: simplicity. It combines the functionality of a Pomodoro timer app (including the ability to tweak timings) with the convenience of a to-do list (including keyboard shortcuts), meaning you're ready to tackle your list efficiently.
Just open your task list, add things you need to do, and then click the clock next to your highest-priority task to start your Pomodoro timer. When time runs out, the time you spent on that task is logged to your reports, letting you see exactly how much time you spent on each task on your list. You can also download those reports as CSV files for your records or invoicing, and they go back for as long as you've been using the app.
If you purchase Be Focused for both macOS and iOS devices, you can sync your data across all your devices. Just look out for the iOS free version: it's supported by ads, and they can be intrusive.
Be Focused Price: Free on iOS for the Focus Timer app that includes everything except cross-device syncing; $1.99 for the Be Focused Pro iOS app that syncs with the premium macOS app; $4.99 for the Be Focused Pro macOS app that syncs with the premium iOS app (note that there's no free macOS version of Be Focused).
The best Pomodoro app for finding out when you're the most focused
Engross (iOS, Android)
Exclusively a mobile app, Engross gets straight to the point. It takes seconds to set up with no need to sign up for anything, leaving you able to get on with your work fast. Your experience will vary depending on your OS. iOS users get an encouraging Pomodoro timer and basic to-do list functionality, while Android owners also enjoy a calendar feature alongside it.
Whichever OS you're running, Engross is great for helping you determine when you're distracted. While a timer is running, all you have to do is tap the screen every time you procrastinate, and Engross remembers that moment. It then compiles reports showing you what times of the day you're most able to focus, as well as what times of the day you're prone to be distracted.
If you're trying to figure out when you work at your best, this can help you arrange your daily schedule. The thinking is that you learn to schedule the tasks that require the most attention during your most productive hours. The Pomodoro timer may be simplistic compared to other apps here (e.g., unlimited labeling is only an option with the premium version), but being able to understand how you work is worth the trade-offs.
Engross Price: Free for the basic app with ads via the Android version; $2.99 for the Pro upgrade (purchased within the free version of the app) that provides an ad-free experience for Android, as well as unlimited labels, detailed statistics, and focus analysis of when you're at your most productive.
The best Pomodoro app for managing multiple projects
Focus To-Do (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chrome extension)
You probably find yourself juggling multiple projects, whether that's a mixture of personal tasks and work things, or freelancing between different projects. Focus To-Do uses an email inbox-style interface, so it's clear to see what's coming up. You can separate your tasks according to what day you plan on tackling them (right down to an open-ended "someday") before turning everything into a pomodoro. You can also choose to turn each task into multiple pomodoros if the thing you're trying to do is a long-term task.
It's possible to add sub-tasks as well as extensive notes on what you're doing, making it a breeze to hold yourself accountable. And checking your reports and statistics is similarly straightforward and intuitive: you can easily check where your best days are as well as which specific hours were most productive for you.
Focus To-Do Price: Free for the main app; $10 one-off lifetime fee for the Premium app, which includes sync features, cloud backup, detailed statistics, and unlimited projects.
Create a customized Pomodoro workflow with Zapier
If none of the apps on this list work for you—or if you're looking for something either simpler or more customizable—here's another option to consider.
Zapier has two internal tools, the Zapier Chrome extension and Delay, that can be used together to create a simple Pomodoro timer as a Chrome extension. You can use one of these Zap templates to get started, or follow the instructions below to customize the timer to work with whatever app you want.
Step 1: Install the Zapier Chrome extension if you aren't already using it.
Step 2: Log in to Zapier, and click Make a Zap in the left-hand menu (it's a plus sign).
Step 3: For your trigger app, select Zapier Chrome extension. Then select New Push from the dropdown for your Trigger event, and click Continue. It'll ask you to test it out, so follow the instructions to do that.
Step 4: Select Delay by Zapier as your action app. Choose Delay For from the dropdown, and click Continue.
Step 5: Enter the amount of time for your focus session (typically 25 minutes), and click Continue.
Step 6: Add a step to your Zap, and choose the app where you want to receive a notification when your timer expires. For example, if you select Gmail, follow the rest of the steps to tell your Zap to send you an email when time expires.
When you're done, give your Zap a name, and turn it on. Then, repeat these steps for your short break and long break timers. When you have them all set up, just click the Zapier icon in your Chrome toolbar and select the timer you want to start.
When time runs out, you'll get a notification in the application you selected when creating your Zaps.
Zapier Price: Zapier's Pomodoro timer is a multi-step Zap, so you'll need a premium subscription to use it. Prices for premium plans start at $20/month, billed annually.
Is the Pomodoro Technique for you?
If you're naturally inclined to jump around from task to task, a system like the Pomodoro Technique may provide the structure you need to stay focused and productive.
Still, Pomodoro isn't for everyone. If you try it out and find that it isn't right for you, there are plenty of other task management techniques to consider.
Remember, the best approach to boosting your productivity is to experiment—both with tools and techniques—to find a system that works perfectly for you.
Originally published in March 2017 by Sean Kennedy, this post was updated by Jessica Greene in September 2018 and again by Jennifer Allen in July 2020.