Whether you’re a web developer, a marketing director or an accountant, we all live in a world of distractions. With emails, phone calls, text messages, video chats and IMs constantly vying for our attention, it’s not surprising that daily tasks often take longer and are more error-prone than they should be.

To help people stay in the moment, Francesco Cirillo created a time management method in the 1980s that he named the Pomodoro Technique. Without getting into too much detail, the system constrains workers into 25-minute work periods accompanied by 5- and 15-minute breaks.

352 was introduced to the idea when software developer Peter Brownstein watched a video titled, “Professional Productivity,” by coding expert and prominent industry speaker Scott Hanselman. Several of our development teams tinkered with Pomodoro for several weeks, with varying results. While they liked the theory, they found the 25-, 5- and 15-minute intervals built into standard Pomodoro timers weren’t ideal for the sort of creative work they were doing.

“We would just be getting into the zone, and the timer would go off,”  Brownstein said. “We liked having set periods, but we wanted to be able to customize them to better fit the kinds of projects we work on.”

In short, they wanted the Pomodoro Technique, just a bit more fluid… thus the idea for was born. A time management tool that can adapt to a changing schedule.

“If you’re on the same timer in a room full of computers, the synchronization is like a cool party trick.”

A team of 352 designers, software developers and digital marketers volunteered to create a Pomodoro-style timer that promotes greater flexibility and provides a better fit for teams spread across multiple locations. Designer Nick Forneris said he was enthusiastic about Marinara from the start.

“I’ve always liked any kind of GUI (graphical user interface), so the idea of building a really intricate and useful timer was intriguing,” Forneris said.

Marinara, built to share.

In order to create the best possible solution, the team applied a handful of programming technologies including ASP.NET MVC, RavenDB and SignalR. These packages and the team’s ingenuity opened up a number of possibilities that make the Marinara end product incredibly robust – especially when you consider the entire project was created and launched in just one week.

Marinara users can set custom intervals for each work and break period, allowing them to design workflows to suit their time management needs. When a segment ends, an alert sound selected by the user goes off and the 00:00 timer numbers on screen flash red and white.

And like every good Italian meal, Marinara was made to share. Each time a new Marinara timer is set, a unique URL is created. Users can revise that web address to a name of their choice. By sharing the URL with others, people across the office or around the world can all be on a synchronized schedule.

Marinara software developer Drew Keller said, “If you’re on the same timer in a room full of computers, the synchronization is like a cool party trick.”

352 released as a free time management tool and will continually improve and iterate on it as we receive feedback. We hope others will find it a valuable resource as they strive to avoid distractions, improve productivity and achieve their goals.

Enjoy Marinara. Mangia!


Damion Wasylow is a senior marketing strategist at 352.