Best Pomodoro Apps

Best Pomodoro Apps

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity system that stops you from procrastinating or getting distracted, so you can focus on getting stuff done. The idea is simple: set a timer for 25 minutes, work until it runs out, then take a 5-minute break and repeat the process three more times. After that, take a 15 to 30-minute break. That's one full Pomodoro cycle.

Despite how basic it sounds, the Pomodoro Technique is incredibly effective. We are using it right now to write this intro. The 25-minute work session is long enough that you can stay fully engaged, while the 5-minute breaks, which are never too far off, give you a chance to check Twitter or your email without disrupting your work.

While you can use any timer (or timer app) you want, a dedicated Pomodoro app can make your life a little easier by automatically alternating between work and break periods. It saves you the hassle of winding up a manual timer or constantly checking the clock. So, let's have a look at the best Pomodoro timers.

1. Pomodor (Web)

It's hard to beat the convenience of the timer app on your smartphone, but Pomodor comes close. It's a simple, good-looking, web-based Pomodoro timer that's perfect for anyone just curious to try it out or who only occasionally needs a Pomodoro app. Just hit the Play button, and it'll start cycling through full Pomodoro sessions—with the countdown on display in the URL title bar.

There are lots of timer websites out there, but Pomodor stands out from the mediocre masses for a couple of reasons. You can customize the length of the work and break periods as well as the number of Pomodoros you do before a long break, so you can fit it into how you like to work. Just go to Settings in the left sidebar to customize it all. 

Also, you can set up a free account, which then allows you to track how much work you get done on any given day. Click Add Label on the timer to list what you're working on for each Pomodoro, so it's all categorized properly. 

Really, as a default go-to timer that you don't need to install anything to use, Pomodor is perfect. There are better, more fully-featured timers available if that's what you're looking for. But for most people, Pomodor is easy to recommend. 

Best Pomodoro app for:  simple web-based Pomodoro timer

Price: Free, with donations to the site designer recommended

2. Forest (iOS, Android)

If your smartphone is your biggest source of distraction, Forest is a clever—and very cute—way to fix it. 

The idea is that whenever you want to stay focused, you plant a tree. As you work and the timer counts down, the tree grows on your phone screen in front of you. If you leave the app, it withers and dies. Every focus session you complete plants that tree in your forest, which grows over the days and weeks you use the app. You also unlock coins, so you can get new trees or even plant a real one. It's a classic bit of gamification that's surprisingly effective. 

Forest's cutesy image belies some powerful functionality. You can tag your work periods by what you're doing, and the analytics track when you're most productive. It even provides trends, and, if you get your friends or coworkers on board, you can compete to see who's most productive—or work together to plant trees. 

Forest isn't strictly a Pomodoro timer—you can focus for as long as you want, and there's a conspicuous absence of tomato-related puns and imagery—but it defaults to the 25/5 split (though you will need to manually take breaks). Still, of all the smartphone timers we considered, it's the one that really stood apart (like a mighty oak?) and was different enough from the built-in apps that it's worth recommending. If you want something more traditional and tomato-inspired, you could also try BeFocused for iOS or Engross on Android.

Best Pomodoro app: for Mobile Users

Price: $1.99 on iOS; Free on Android with ads.

3. Minimalist (iOS, Android)

Minimalist is a great Pomodoro timer app for those who prefer a cutting edge, modern user interface and design. Minimalist is all black and white and easy to use with a slick look. 

Upon launching the app, you are taken to a blank white screen. If you swipe down, you can add new tasks and assign due dates to each task and also give the task a priority status, from low to high. Minimalist uses a mostly white screen with a thin black circle to work as your Pomodoro timer.

Best Pomodoro app: for iOS and Android users

Price: $5.99 on iOS and Android

4. Be Focused Pro (macOS, iOS)

Like with so many app categories, Apple users have all the best options. Be Focused Pro is probably the nicest take on a Pomodoro timer on this list. 

On a Mac, where you probably do most of your work, Be Focused is a small menubar app. Click the icon, and you can start a timer, name the task you're working on, or access the basic to-do list. It's no replacement for a dedicated to-do app, but it's a handy addition for keeping track of what you're working on and how many Pomodoros it takes. (For more detail on that, you can also check out the Reports section, which breaks it all down into nice graphs). 

On iPhones and iPads, it's a standalone timer app with all the same features. Perhaps the best one is that all your data is synced between all your devices. Even the live timers. This means you can have the same Pomodoro countdown running on your Mac, iPhone, and even your Apple Watch. 

There are free versions of Be Focused available for macOS and iOS, but both are supported by pretty ugly and intrusive ads, and you can't sync between them. We'd recommend upgrading to Pro—it's a one-time total of $8.

If Be Focused doesn't strike your fancy, there are plenty of other Apple-exclusive Pomodoro timers around. Two worth looking at are FocusList, if you want a daily to-do list set up and Flow if you want distracting apps automatically blocked. 

Best Pomodoro app: for Apple Users

Price: Free with ads on Mac and iOS. $4.99 for Be Focused Pro on Mac and $2.99 for Be Focused Pro on iOS to enable cross-device syncing.

5. KanbanFlow (Web)

Kanban is a popular task management system. If you use it to keep track of what you're working on and like using the Pomodoro Technique to actually do said work, then KanbanFlow might be just what you need. It combines both productivity systems into an easy-to-use web app. 

If you've ever used an app like Trello, you'll be familiar with how KanbanFlow works. You've got a series of vertical columns with task cards in each one. By default, the columns are To Do, Do Today, In Progress, and Done, but you can change them to anything you want by right-clicking on them and selecting Edit, or add new columns by clicking the pencil icon in the top-right corner. This enables you to break down what you have to accomplish into manageable chunks. 

To use the Pomodoro features, click on the card you want to work on, then click Timer > Start Pomodoro (you can also choose Start Stopwatch if you just want to track the time you take to do something). The timer will start counting down, so get to work.

One of the most useful features of KanbanFlow is how it tracks the time you spend on each card. Just click on one and then click Reports > Time Log to see a breakdown of all the time you've spent on it. It's great for learning how long different tasks actually take you to do. 

Plus, KanbanFlow integrates with Zapier, so you can use it to do things like send Slack messages to a team channel when new cards are added to the board or automatically create new cards from GitHub issues.

Best Pomodoro app: for combining Kanban with Pomodoro

Price: Free for unlimited tasks and boards; from $5/user/month for the Premium plan, which includes detailed reports, file attachments, priority support, and third-party integrations, including Zapier.

6. Toggl Track (macOS, Windows, and browser extensions)

If you get paid by billable hours, then you might want to set up a Pomodoro that can track how long you work for, automatically filter out your break periods, and make invoicing your clients easy. Toggl Track can do all that—and more. (Note: the Pomodoro feature is only available in the macOS and Windows desktop apps and the Firefox and Chrome browser extensions.)

Now, Toggl is primarily a time-tracking app. (It's on our list of the best ones, actually.) If you aren't going to heavily use its time-tracking functionality, one of our other suggestions will be a better choice for you. But if you want to track your billable Pomodoros (or already use Toggl and want to use the Pomodoro Technique), then it can be a great fit. 

Toggl is really easy to use. Whenever you want to track what you're doing, you start a timer. You don't even need to specify what project you're working on or who the client is: you can do that after. With Pomodoro mode enabled on Toggl, the timer will count up to your chosen Pomodoro length (25 minutes by default), then start a new activity called Pomodoro Break. After a brief bit of respite, you can roll through into a new work session. 

And don't worry if you get into a flow and work right through a break. In the web app, go to Timer, and then select whatever break you worked through. Click on the folder icon to assign it to a work project, or click on its name to rename it. 

Toggl also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like share your time entries on Slack or automatically create projects from a Trello board.

Best Pomodoro app: for time tracking

Price: Free for basic time-tracking and Pomodoro timer; from $10/user/month for the Starter plan with billable rates, time rounding, and more. 

7. Marinara Timer (Web)

The Pomodoro Technique is normally a personal productivity practice, but it's incredibly effective for small groups of people working together—either in-person or online. You work for 25 minutes, then spend 5 minutes discussing what you're doing. And repeat. Not many Pomodoro timers are set up to be used like this, however, which is why web-based Marinara Timer makes our list—despite its dated look.

Marinara Timer is as simple as it comes: you don't even need an account to share timers. When you open the website, you're presented with three timer options: Pomodoro, Custom, and Kitchen. Pomodoro is the normal 25/5 setup with a 15-minute break after four rounds; Custom lets you set up whatever work/break/rest periods you and your team need; Kitchen is just a simple timer. 

Where Marinara Timer really stands out (other than the bad design) is that you can share timers. Each one has a unique URL that you can send to your coworkers in other locations. That way, everyone can work off the same countdown. You can customize the link text (just click Manage) and even create an administrator link, so other people can reset the timer as needed. 

Best Pomodoro app for: shareable web-based Pomodoro timer

Price: Free

8. FocusList (iOS, macOS, Apple Watch)

FocusList is a simple and effective daily planner & focus app that uses the Pomodoro technique. With FocusList, you can plan your day, stay focused and track your time in order to get deep work done. FocusList helps you stay more productive by using 25 minutes intervals. As one of the simplest Pomodoro apps out there, FocusList syncs with Mac in real-time and works with all iOS products seamlessly. 

Best Pomodoro app for: simple effective planner

Price: Free with ads on Mac and iOS

What is the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro Technique sounds basic, but it really works.  To get started, just set a 25-minute timer and start working. Once the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break and then set another timer. After 4 cycles (or “pomodoros”), take a longer break (around 30 minutes) before starting again.

What makes a good pomodoro app?

Once you decide to use a pomodoro app, how do you decide which one to use? These are the characteristics we consider important in a pomodoro application and the criteria we used when selecting the best one:

Design – The app should be well-designed so that it is easy to use. One of the things that makes the pomodoro method appealing to so many people is how easy it is to implement, but that beautiful simplicity can easily be lost underneath unneeded features or poor design choices.

Ease of Use – The purpose of any tool is to make the work easier. If the app is not easy to use or it’s too difficult to figure out how a certain feature works, it can actually make it harder for you to set your pomodoro and get to work.

Flexibility – While the pomodoro method is simple, it is also flexible. The pomodoro app you choose should be able to accommodate the way that you want to work, whether that be changing the look and feel of the app or simply changing the duration of the timer itself.

Sync – The pomodoro app you choose should sync your pomodoro data between your devices. This allows you to implement the pomodoro method no matter where you are and and eliminates fragmented data.

Additional Features – There’s a broad range of additional features available in pomodoro apps, like notifications, reports, and task-specific time tracking. Any additional features the application chooses to implement should stay true to the heart of the pomodoro method and compliment the timer functionality well.

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