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Show HN: Tomato – Pomodoro Timer (stripenight.com)
98 points by jastr on Sept 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments

Years ago a Buddhist monk recommended to me to set a bell every 30 minutes as a mindfulness practice. When you hear the bell, look up, bring your consciousness back to your breath for a few breaths, make sure you are aware of your body posture, especially when sitting in front of a computer, and then go back to what you were doing.

The pomodoro technique always reminds me of this.

Yeah. There is a part of the pomodoro technique where you capture extraneous thoughts to then offload it from your mind. You look over that stuff during the 5 minute period to see if it was really as urgent as you thought it was. It is structurally similar to the Noting practice from insight/vipassana. My own experience with both pomodoro and meditation is that the mind will try to play tricks on you to get you to avoid doing unpleasant things by bringing up something that is more pleasant. That capture technique is a good way to manage that kind of stuff.

I used to use a notebook (as described in the original Pomodoro pdf) and now I just use org-mode in Spacemacs.

I usually spend the 5 minute break time meditating or working through some empty hand forms. When I do all of that, it has been very effective for marathoning coding without using external stimulants like caffeine.

Added bonus: using the Wim Hof (Iceman) breathing method and cold shower during the 30 minute break to oxygenate the body and brain. I usually feel like I just woke up fresh from a good night sleep, ready to go for another series of pomodoro sessions.

Lastly: I am working (on and off) on taking the principles and View of classical (medieval) non-dual Shaiva Tantra and applying it to writing code. There are a lot of good insights there that are applicable to working in a modern job, and it goes beyond mindfulness. Tantra, in both it's Shaiva and later Buddhist/Vajrayana versions have practices involving creating art, form, aesthetics, and beauty that is often missing from the attitudes towards work and productivity here in America. Tantra requires a solid foundation in mindfulness (among other things).

If you have sox installed, simply

      while true; do sleep 1800; play -n synth 0.15 sine 800; done

Visual version, avoids disturbing coworkers

  brew install screenbrightness
  while true; do sleep 1800; brightness 0; sleep 0.1; brightness 1; done

Or, in powershell (sans sox),

     while($true){(New-Object Media.SoundPlayer "C:\YourPreferredSound.wav").Play(); sleep 1800;}
I'm using the Single Hit Tibetan singing bowl from: http://www.sound-effects-hunter.com/tibetan-bowl-sound/

Does this help you mentally? What changes have you seen since starting this 'mindfulness' practice?

I'm hesitant to say anything about mental effects, since I'm far from able to objectively measure such things, especially since I haven't been keeping any kind of measurements or records. But it certainly keeps me from slouching quite as much.

I made a free macOS app based on this technique: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zentime/id1089216789?mt=12

This would be a killer Apple Watch app.

Who needs an Apple watch? Timex digital watches have been dinging every 60 minutes for decades.

Agree, especially with just a gentle vibrating reminder that turned itself off after a second. I've tried a few of these, and the problem they all suffer is obnoxiously intrusive notifications. It's not an alarm clock, if I miss one it's fine.

Agree, it's more about noticing whether or not you're focused than it is being forced into a workflow.

This app helps with that: http://www.42burnside.com/mindfulmynah/

Doesn't it distract you when you are in deep work?

It usually helps me refocus. A quiet alarm isn't enough for me to lose track of what I'm doing, but working myself to exhaustion usually does.

Yes, but only slightly and not enough to prevent refocusing quickly. In the long run it helps with overall mental stamina. It helps keep me from distracting myself with other things which take longer to come back to a problem from.

I do that too, sometimes even more frequent.

You really don't need an app for that, there are tons of videos on YT serving exactly this purpose:


This is excellent advice, being mindful is one of the best things we can do, especially with regard to stress and worry and posture as you noted.

Here's a productivity tricks that works for me:

Reason why I stop working on a project is because after a while (or 10 minutes...), it just gets boring.

So I toggle between 3-4 similarly important projects a day. The excitement of doing something new when I switch helps me keep working (just on a different project).

Yes there is a cost to mentally switching regularly but it's worth it to avoid the much higher cost of watching Youtube instead!

Very similar to the highly effective Structured Procrastination method - http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/

Hah! Good trick, agreed, and I understand you :)

My favorite Pomodoro Timer is:


This one is lacking some features (I understand it aims to be minimalistic, but it cut flexibility on the process...)

I find http://moosti.com to be the best of the web tomato timers

This is the one I use too.

Plug for https://complice.co/ for group pomodoro's. There's a hacker news channel. Pretty interesting concept, especially for mobile workers who still want to "chat" with someone.

Nice. For those who'd like a todo list to go with their Pomodoro* timer, I've created Lanes: https://lanes.io.

It tracks how many pomodoros you complete each day and how long you spent being productive. Plus you can see the aggregate # of poms completed by all users of the app (which I find motivating).

*Not strictly a Pomodoro as the timer can be adjusted, but hey that's what the users wanted.

OP here - interesting to see not only how many developers on HN use the Pomodoro Technique but also how many have built their own app!

I made my own timer after trying almost everything else out there.

The one I have now is a tomato emoji in my Mac menubar. When I tell it I'm working, it asks what I'm working on (so I can keep it in a logfile and do fun analytics on it later), then plays my work playlist in iTunes and updates a webpage[1] that lets my wife know I'm working for the next 25 minutes.

When the time is up, it stops the music and asks how the pom went (also for the logfile).

It's absolutely the perfect solution for me. I can't imagine finding an app that does these things that someone else had built. The ROI on building tools for myself that help my workflow has been extremely positive.

1. http://gen.co/ischristianworking/

I built my own for Android (still on the store, but not linking as I need to pull it and fix) - love the Pomodoro technique, and it's quite a nice, simple challenge to build something for. I used it to learn the basics of Java/Android and get something functional into the store within 48 hours. Good intellectual exercise.

I just set a 25 minute time and forgot about it. The gong sound terrified me.

Another Pomodoro timer that assumes that a Pomodoro is 25 minutes, even though that was only an example that worked for the author.

I just use `notify-send` every 30 minutes... https://github.com/dcousens/dotfiles/blob/master/.xinitstatu....

I use this http://martakostova.github.io/timer/ (compiled by myself) . It's good becuase it can run script, so i can sete myself to a DND status on slack when the pomodoro is running and turn back online after that. E.g.f for start you can use a script like this

do shell script "curl 'https://slack.com/api/dnd.setSnooze?token=<yourtoken>&num_mi...

I thought this was gonna be a post about cooking, I'm still not sure what this is

Pseudoscience based time management

Despite the snark of your answer, I'd be interested to know if you have any examples of science-based time management. It seems that this field is mostly trial-and-error, the techniques either work for you or don't.

Eh it's not like I intended pseudoscience as pejorative, but as in there some evidence in cognitive science that defocusing and refocusing on tasks help efficiency, but as all thing in this field reproducibility and other issues make it a tall order to call it scientific.

There's no "science" about it. The pomodoro technique is just a technique, nothing more, to help people manage their time.

I love it! Doesn't get much more minimal than that.

Here's my relatively bloated pomodoro tracker: http://alexose.github.io/pomodoro/

Hi, nice one!

Just a suggestion, check the behaviour of the "do_it" div. If I click on it and then click outside without writing anything, the div will collapse leaving a blank area, and it will not be possible (or it will be very hard) to open it again.

I did one too before summer. Here's mine http://codepen.io/gianc/full/oLdGAv

I'm still learning, any criticism and/or advice is appreciated.

This is great. Now good luck resisting the urge to add just one more feature.

I really hope you don't because there are other more feature-bloated timers out there. This seems perfect to me.

After looking again, I realized uBlock was reporting that it had blocked something and so I took a look and it is Google Analytics. Just out of curiosity, why include that?

I would imagine the creator would find usage stats interesting.


Thanks for making it. Like I said, I really appreciate how sharply focused the timer page is. If I were to suggest anything, it would be to get rid of the analytics tracking. Is Google telling you anything useful? From my point of view, it consumes resources, doesn't add any functionality, and leaks data about your visitors.

Is there an article outlining the idea behind these tomato timers, similarly to GTD or is it in reality just a simple system that I am trying to read too much into?

Anyone else getting a black screen that says, "Sorry -- Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here"?

I can't tell what it's complaining about. I'm allowing tracking, DRM, cookies, everything I can think of.

Oddly enough, I was able to easily download the video using youtube-dl, a general-purpose command-line video downloader for Unix/Linux/Windows/Mac[1].

The video was well done and informative, but I still don't understand why it doesn't play on their web page.

[1] https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl

Nice work! A good, minimalist solution.


My personal favourite is Strict Workflow [1], which is a Chrome extension. It has the added benefit of preventing idle website browsing during a work phase.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/strict-workflow/cg...

I get distracted by shiny things, so I made a low-distraction work timer https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/low-distraction-work...

It moves pretty much imperceptibly so that it doesn't distract from the task at hand.

I use Timebar, which is unfortunately no longer available through the Mac App Store. http://lifehacker.com/timebar-turns-your-macs-menubar-into-a...

It turns your entire top menu bar into a countdown bar which you can keep an eye on peripherally as you work.

My preferred behaviour for pomodoro timers is: start the break countdown automatically at the end of a pomodoro, but wait for the user to click to start the next pomodoro. Does it do that?

For everyone who has not tried the pomodoro technique (25 minutes focused work, 5 minutes everything else): give it a try! I'm constantly surprised at how much I can get done in 25 minutes.

Developer here - it doesnt auto-start the break timer.

Interesting that you would want to start the break countdown but not the next work timer.

I prefer this too. I'm strict about work intervals but flexible about break intervals. Usually so that I can use the break to chat to my gf, go for a short walk, or make a cup of tea or whatnot without worrying about going over by a couple of minutes and having to reset the timer.

Yes, that's what I meant. If the break does not start automatically, I tend to forget to trigger it, whereas if the next pomodoro does start automatically, it may catch me in the middle of doing something else.

I have a simple PS script to use at work (so I don't have to install any extra applications, plus I can customize it easily). It shows the remaining time as well as a desktop notfication: https://github.com/maxlorenz/ps-pomodoro

For a minimal OS X native app check out Pomodoro One. So simple and clean yet had a great impact on my productivity.

I made a pomodoro app for Linux based on taskwarrior. I have been using it for a while with free sync online ... https://github.com/liloman/pomodoroTasks

Ah, memories. I did one of those, too, a few years ago: http://pomodoro-timer.org/

It even has an animated tomato, uses localstorage to save your work record, and makes ding in the end!

I really dig the aesthetic and simplicity of http://luckyshot.github.io/twentyfive/

I like and am at the same time annoyed that it is so simple.

One the one hand I have a doze features I'd like to have. On the other I know those are mostly time wastes.

Yay. Here's mine: http://xcvfd.com/pomodoro

My favorite timer is pomotodo.com which merges a todo list with a pomodoro timer, and gives stats on completion rates.

I use Pymodoro in a dzen bar in a minimalist tiling windows manager. Really nice.

Can it send email?

Why is this on front page? It has two buttons and one text input.

The 'Flappy Bird' effect.

Has anyone tried shocking themselves? I feel like this pomodoro idea is ripe for creative disruption.

Oh boy.

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