Manage Your Practice Time and Energy with the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management tool helpful in guitar practice.

Sometimes we have little time for guitar practice.  Other times, we have so much time that we lack focus and don’t get much done.

For a regular daily practice, it helps to be organized.  And one method to organize practice time is the Pomodoro Technique.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple but effective way to use guitar time.  It helps us focus and remain intentional.  And it encourages breaks, which are good for the body and brain.

It’s called the Pomodoro technique because the Italian chap who came up with it was using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (“pomodoro” in Italian).

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique in Guitar Practice:

  • Decide on what you will work on. Be specific.
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes. Focus only on your task (s) for that 25 minutes.
  • When the timer goes off, set it again for five minutes and take a break.
  • After your five-minute break, set the timer for another 25 minutes and get back to work.
  • After three or four of these cycles, take a break for 20 to 30 minutes.

We can go like this all day long.  The frequent breaks keep us feeling fresh and alert.

Benefits of Working in Bursts

Of course, for guitar, we probably won’t have very many of these 25-minute sessions every day. But using it has some great benefits.

Being intentional

Perhaps the greatest benefit the Pomodoro has on guitar practice is that it forces us to decide specifically what we’re doing. If we only have 25 minutes, and then we’re going to take a break, then we had better make this 25 minutes count.

It’s easy to just start playing and go where our attention takes us.  This is great occasionally, but if we are going to keep all the balls in the air (scales, sight-reading, multiple pieces, etc) then ideally we manage our time in some way.


If we look over our practice log or consult our practice notebook, we may see that we have X number of things that it would be great to practice today.  Comparing that list to our available time forces us to prioritize.

Faster learning

Taking regular breaks gives our brains time to assimilate what we have just learned.  Our brains like beginnings and endings.  Working in short sprints creates more of these, and we learn more deeply and reliably.

Good on the body

Guitar practice is physical.  Standing up and moving around every 25 minutes or so helps us keep the blood flowing and the muscles loose.  This is especially useful if you play with a footstool.

Encourages challenging ourselves

It also may encourage us to spend less time in our comfortable zones.  It instead leads us to challenge ourselves a little more.  More of the hard work (but not too hard) leads to better playing over the long term.

We can tell ourselves, “even if I don’t really enjoy XYZ, at least it’s only for a few minutes.”  Then it’s done and we feel great.  We’ve practiced well and sacrificed some personal comfort in service of our greater skills and musical growth.

Use the Pomodoro Technique When You Need It

The Pomodoro Technique is a worthwhile tool in the guitar practice tool chest.  We can use it when we feel the need for structure, or if we are short on time and want to make the most of it.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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