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I like the pomodoro technique and I use the timeclock format to keep track of how much time I spend on tasks (through hledger.) I wanted something that combined both of these, so I created Pomohoro. I recommend something along the lines of

alias ph=pomohoro

which is the alias I will use throughout this document.


To install, the following four commands are likely sufficient:

  1. Install the Haskell build tool Stack. This is not strictly necessary, but it will make installation much easier than having to chase dependencies and compile manually.

    $ sudo apt-get install stack
  2. Download the code.

    $ git clone [email protected]:kqr/Pomohoro.git && cd Pomohoro
  3. Build and install the program.

    $ stack install
  4. Put the executable in your path (adjust command to suit your path preferences.)

    $ sudo cp ~/.local/bin/pomohoro-exe /usr/local/bin/pomohoro

The third command may exit with an error and prompt you to run stack setup. If it does, follow those instructions. It is simply saying that it can't find the correct version of the compiler on your system, so it will download one an install it in a sandbox so it does not affect the rest of your system.

Further, the dependencies might require you to install missing development files. E.g., stack might complain like so:

    Configuring libxml-sax-0.7.5...
    Cabal-simple_mPHDZzAJ_1.24.0.0_ghc-8.0.1: The pkg-config package 'libxml-2.0'
    is required but it could not be found.

which would require you to

    $ sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev

which installs libxml2's dev files and add the pkgconfig directory to PKG_CONFIG_PATH if it not pointing to the pkgconfig, yet:

    $ export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/pkgconfig

Basic usage

With the above alias, all you need to start the timer is

ph start

This should output nothing, but 25 minutes after you issued the command, the timer will go off and it will display a FreeDesktop.org notification alerting you of this. 25 minutes of work will be recorded to the timelog file, which by default is called .pomohoro.timeclock and is located in your home directory.

You can use hledger to get a summary of this time information rendered in several neat formats. One of my favourites is the daily balance, which you get by running hledger -f timeclock_file balance --daily:

Balance changes in 2016/10/02-2016/10/08:

         ||  2016/10/02  2016/10/03  2016/10/04  2016/10/05  2016/10/06  2016/10/07  2016/10/08
 dd2380  ||       3.90h           0       2.26h       2.51h       1.27h       3.17h           0
 ik2218  ||           0           0       1.25h       0.18h       2.00h           0       2.00h
 org     ||       0.25h       5.58h       1.70h       0.32h           0       0.42h           0
 support ||           0           0           0       0.19h           0           0           0
         ||       4.15h       5.58h       5.21h       3.20h       3.27h       3.58h       2.00h

If you after your hard working session want to take a timed five-minute break, you can start that with

ph rem 5

As you can guess, the number 5 represents how many minutes until you want to be reminded that it's time to get back to work.

If your pomodoro session gets interrupted, you signal this by issuing the command

ph int

which will terminate your current session and record the correct starting and stopping times in the timeclock file. Note: this will only terminate an active session, it will not cancel any reminders you have set!


The configuration file should be located in your home directory and be named .pomohoro.cfg. Here's a sample you can tweak to your liking:

# How long is the work session started with Pomohoro start?
session-length = 25

# Which timeclock file do you want Pomohoro to append times to?
timeclock-file = "/home/johns/.hledger/side-projects.timeclock"

# This is used in the timeclock file if no account is specified on
# the command line
default-account = "work"

# Which UDP port do you want Pomohoro to listen to and send messages to?
port = 8712

If you don't understand what a setting means, you can most likely skip it entirely and still be happy.

Advanced usage

If you want to start working on a specific client or task and have it tracked separately in the timeclock file, you can name the account on the command line, like so:

ph start acme

If you want to be even more specific than that, you can also include a comment saying what you're doing for Acme.

ph start acme annoying newline bug in web shop

You can also check how far into your current session you are, by issuing the command

ph status

which will respond with something along the lines of

Current work session: 19/25 minute(s)

If you want a shorter session than usual, but you suck at keeping track of time yourself, you can always start a regular session along with a reminder, and then manually interrupt the regular session once the timer goes off. Like so:

ph start
ph rem 15   # I only really want a 15 minute session
# ...
# reminder goes off!
ph int

As it happens, you can use the reminder functionality as a general reminding tool, for example like this:

ph rem 20 Drink some more water!

where it will include your message in the reminder.

Further reading

I will collect some links here. About hledger, timeclock and the pomodoro technique.

Developer notes


This project is stackified, so the easiest way to build it is to run

stack build

and then follow the instructions on the screen.


Roughly in order of priority:

  • Convenience wrapping command around hledger (or the hledger API?) to get the time balance for the last week or something?

  • Tests

  • Multiple simultaneous sessions. Useful if you want to double-bill clients, e.g. you're working on a feature that both need and should pay for. Easiest to explain with the following sequence of commands:

    ph start acme      # acme needs this feature
                       # some time passes
    ph start oscorp    # hey, oscorp can use this part of the feature too
                       # additional time passes
    ph int oscorp      # okay, this is stuff oscorp doesn't want
                       # more time
    ph int             # end all remaining sessions

    This should be pretty easy to make since UDP allows several processes to listen to a single port.

    It does however require an upgrade to the protocol. You're likely to also want to get the status of either all sessions or a specific one.