I will take the next 25 minutes writing this article about the Pomodoro technique.
After a discussion around life hacking tricks (see here in French: http://lifehacking.grassouille.org/) I am trying to adopt the Pomodoro technique.
The method is simple, and the tooling that you will need is basic: a timer, a sheet of paper and a pencil.
It’s a five-step process:
- Plan the tasks to do at the beginning of the day
- Stick to this during the day during each Pomodoro cycle
- Record your daily observations
- Convert the raw data in information
- Visualize daily information to find improvement areas
Writing this, I can see that step 1 is not a problem (I was already doing this using a mindmap to represent my daily activities). I was also quite good with the step 2 (I will describe the experiment later in the article). Not so good on step 3, and I didn’t start applying the two last steps…
What is a Pomodoro?
A Pomodoro represents 25 minutes of work without any interruption. I can see how I am efficient when I focus on one activity. I am also able to measure how much time it takes to do each activity (It’s easy to count the Pomodoros on the mindmap).
After 25 minutes, 5 minutes break… The first times, it’s too early! And at the same time, it’s terrific! I can adjust my posture, breath, drink a glass of water… From time to time, the temptation to continue to work even if the timer ring is high, so I can understand that some Pomodoro software block the keyboard…
After 4 Pomodoros, the break is longer from 15 to 30 minutes… And it seems long! I tried to reduce this time to 10 minutes… And I have observed that I was not taking enough breaks before being “too” tired or “too” stretched… Significant learning, I need to work on that!
Either for short or long break, it’s difficult to stop and to stop to think about the work we are doing… I also observe that when I can do it, it’s straightforward to get back to the previous activity after the break.
Pomodoros are steps of work without interruption. And it’s hard to stick to that. When the phone ring or when I have a notification on IRC. When the counter of new messages raises suddenly, or if a colleague asks a question. Resisting the temptation is difficult. But when I do it, there’s a lot of benefits. Another improvement topic there.
The major advantage is that the focus on a particular task improves my efficiency.
The pressure generated by the timer on the top right of my screen is sometimes quite significant. The pressure increases when I see that the estimates of my work are wrong and that I will not be able to deliver what was planned. Estimates are difficult, a recurring problem to address in another post.
I will stick to that technique and will explore all the steps.
It took me two Pomodoros to write this. Two times the estimates.
Header picture is from Ryan McGuire.