How To Adapt The Pomodoro Technique For ADHD

In today’s fast-paced world, it is hard not to get distracted by social media notifications, emails, and other external stimuli that can derail your focus. This is especially true for people with ADHD, who find it difficult to concentrate for extended periods of time. As a result, many have turned to different techniques to boost productivity, with the Pomodoro Technique being one of the most popular.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s that aims to increase productivity by breaking down work into short, focused intervals, usually 25 minutes, followed by a short break. Here we will discuss how to adapt the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD.

Understand ADHD

Before we dive into how to adapt the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD, it is essential to understand what ADHD is and how it affects the ability to concentrate. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by difficulty focusing, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, which can make it hard to complete tasks, stay organized, and meet deadlines.

Therefore, people with ADHD need to find ways to stay focused and manage their time effectively, which is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in.

Start slow

The Pomodoro Technique involves working in focused 25-minute intervals, followed by a short break, usually five minutes. It is important to note that not everyone can start with a 25-minute interval immediately, especially those with ADHD, who may find it challenging to concentrate for extended periods. Therefore, it is essential to start slow and gradually increase the time spent working in intervals.

Begin with 10-minute intervals, and once you become comfortable with that, gradually increase to 15 minutes, and then 20. This method ensures that you build up your stamina and focus over time, making it easier to adhere to the 25-minute guidelines eventually.

Eliminate distractions

One of the main benefits of the Pomodoro Technique is that it eliminates distractions during the work interval. However, for people with ADHD, this may not be enough. It is crucial to identify potential distractions and eliminate them before starting a work session. This includes turning off your phone, signing out of social media, and finding a quiet workspace. If you’re working on a computer, switch off any notifications that may come up during the work period.

Eliminating possible distractions means that you can solely focus on the task at hand.

Use a timer

The Pomodoro Technique is all about working in focused intervals, which means having a timer is essential. It is best to have a timer that you can set to 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. Having an audible timer allows you to stay on track and helps monitor your progress through the work session.

Take breaks

Breaks are as important as work intervals, especially for people with ADHD who may find it hard to concentrate for extended periods. Therefore, it is essential to take regular breaks, preferably every 25 minutes. Breaks allow you to recharge and refocus, increasing productivity when you return to the task at hand. It is important to note that breaks should be kept short, around five minutes, to avoid derailing progress.

Alternate tasks

For people with ADHD, working on the same task for an extended period can lead to boredom and a loss of focus. The Pomodoro Technique enables you to switch tasks at the end of each interval, which is also an excellent way to keep yourself stimulated and energized.

One approach is to alternate tasks based on their difficulty. Start by working on the most challenging task for 25 minutes. Once the timer goes off, switch to a more straightforward task. It is essential to note that task switching may not be for everyone. Therefore, it is essential to identify what works best for you.

Make it a routine

The Pomodoro Technique can only be effective if it is followed consistently. Therefore, it is crucial to make it a part of your daily routine. Schedule specific work times and ensure that you adhere to them regardless of external stimuli. This not only helps you stay focused but also trains your brain to recognize that work time means work time, increasing productivity in the long run.


The Pomodoro Technique is an excellent time-management technique that can benefit people with ADHD, helping them stay focused and complete tasks effectively. However, it is essential to adapt the technique to fit individual needs, starting slow, eliminating distractions, taking breaks, alternating tasks, and making it a part of daily routines. By doing so, the Pomodoro Technique can be an effective tool to achieve greater productivity and success.


FAQs about How To Adapt The Pomodoro Technique for ADHD

1. What is the Pomodoro Technique and how does it help with ADHD?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method created by Francesco Cirillo that helps individuals split their work into short, significant intervals, and take regular breaks in between. This technique has been found useful for individuals with ADHD to improve focus and productivity, in addition to reducing mental fatigue.

2. Can the Pomodoro Technique be adapted for individuals with ADHD?

Absolutely. While the traditional Pomodoro Technique involves 25-minute work sessions, for individuals with ADHD, it is often better to start with shorter work intervals, such as 10-15 minutes. This can help prevent distractions and boredom, and allow for more frequent breaks to recharge.

3. Are there any tips to effectively adapt the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD?

Yes. Here are some tips to effectively adapt the Pomodoro Technique for ADHD:

– Use a timer to keep track of the work intervals and breaks.
– Set realistic goals for each work interval, based on the individual’s attention span.
– Take breaks that align with the individual’s specific interests, such as taking a walk or listening to music.
– Avoid multitasking during work intervals, and focus on one task at a time.
– Evaluate and adjust the technique as needed to find the most effective method for the individual.


1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

2. Barkley, R. A., Murphy, K. R., & Fischer, M. (2008). ADHD in adults: What the science says. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

3. Fabiano, G. A., Pelham, W. E., & Waschbusch, D. A. (2006). ADHD and the impact of daily task demands. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34(4), 585-595. doi:10.1007/s10802-006-9039-6