Pomodoro Technique, the productivity sauce

19 mai 2014

You've probably heard about the Pomodoro Technique. This is one of the most popular time management tools nowadays. This technique has been developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

In the modern days we keep fighting against the clock, trying to accomplish all the assignments. But in the other hand we have a lot of distractions, as the Facebook messages, new tweets or our phones. The Pomodoro Technique wants to teach you to use the time as your friend, being productive, eliminating the procrastination, the pressure and get free time for yourself. Pomodoro Technique also can be a great complement for other methodology's. I used it in my GTD (Getting Things Done) workflow for example.

Modern Family - Decisions under pressure

Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, and Francesco named it as pomodoro because he used a kitchen timer with a tomato shape as his personal timer. The technique consists in for each 25 minute work period (this period is called a "Pomodoro") take a five minutes break. In this break you shouldn't go to your social networks... beware of shiny objects. Instead, you should rest your eyes, grab a cup of coffee or go take a walk. Every four pomodoros you should take a longer break of 20 minutes. Frequent breaks keep your mind fresh and focused. Your brain will retrieve you the favor.

Pomodoro timer

You should be asking why the 25 minutes? I really don't know, and that is a question that I have made to myself. After some research, I believe that the 25 minutes is the "ideal" period to keep the focus on a single task, if you have longer periods your brain will get tired, but this is a personal conclusion.

This isn't applicable for anyone, but if you usually seat down at a desk and you need to get things done, I believe that you can use it. I use it while I'm programming because it helps me stay focused and "force" me to break large tasks into short steps. I also like to use it in teamwork, for example, in pair programming or in a Scrum stand-up meeting. The ticking clock will teach your team that time is running out and the task should completed. If you are questioning yourself if this is a good tool for you, go check this page, probably you will find your case.

You could find some problems to apply it, for example:

  • How to concentrate without interruptions, specially if you are inside a team.
  • The open-plan offices can be an enemy, so pick the perfect music and put your headphones.
  • It's possible don't answer your phone during a pomodoro in your position?
  • Keep the flow while dealing with interaction with the co-workers.
  • Meetings... a necessary evil.

Pomodoro Technique is free, you can spend some money to get a kitchen timer if you want… or you can use any timer program on your computer or phone (I'm using the Simple Pomodoro extension for Chrome). The process isn't ideal for every person, but if you want to boost your productivity you can try it and let me know the results in the comments below.

By the way, this post has been written in 4 pomodoros.

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