Training Card: I’m in the middle of a tomato

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German Version

  • We often overestimate the capacity which a day can reasonably yield, and end up carrying around with us a feeling of loss for not having done enough, or being frustrated because external influences prevented us from getting to the work we had planned to do.
  • When you begin to document what can be fit into your day, you’ll get a feeling for what your true daily capacity is.
  • You can also use the tomato as a protective shield for your concentration. For this to work, you’ll need to learn how to deal with disturbers and distractors.
  • Disturbers are external disruptions, for instance, ringing telephones, doorbells, co-workers, roommates, etc.
  • Distractors are impulses or thoughts, which occur to you during the tomato and are not directly related to its goal.
  • Both types of occurrences interrupt your concentration. For one situation, you need a way to handle your environment and for the other, a way to be able to stick to what you’re doing.
  • Suggested Solutions for Disturbers:
    • Turn off or ignore your telephone during your tomato. After the tomato, you can return phone calls.
    • Explain the tomato technique to your co-workers and your roommates, and then perhaps put up a sign on your desk or door stating that you don’t want to be disturbed.
    • In exceptional situations, you can stop your tomato. Make sure to carefully consider what constitutes an exceptional situation for you. As soon as what’s strictly necessary have been taken care of, start the timer again. If possible, the tomato should only be interrupted for a short period of time, so that you don’t lose track of your concentration.
  • When there have been interruptions:
    • Scrap the interrupted tomato and start a new one after the interruption is over.
    • The tomato may be interrupted for 1 – 5 minutes, and then continued after the interruption.

Training Task

  • For a two week period and for each tomato, keep a list of all your disturbers and distractors.
  • For each distractor, write down the specific thought which distracted you, and for each disturber, who disturbed you and for what reason.
  • After your tomato, take a look once again at your distractors and give thought to which of these distractors you wish to include in a follow-up tomato, and which ones you want to get rid of (because you feel it’s not worth pursuing them).
  • Count up the disrupters on your list. Write down for each disrupter how you want to resolve it in your next tomato.
  • Put together twelve lists and show them to your team.


  • Pomodoro Technique: [1]
  • Noteborg, S. (2010): Pomodoro Technique Illustrated, The Pragmatic Programmers

ID: TOM 02