Last night I read an article from a guy (Glen from ViperChill) who is so obsessed with the Pomodoro technique that I felt compelled to download the app and try it myself.
Pomodoro is a productivity technique that lets you work in chunks for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes you can take a 5 minute break.
Such a chunk is called a Pomodoro. There are also groups of Pomodoros (a group of 4) after which you are allow to take longer breaks.
The idea is that you stay focussed on 1 task for 25 minutes. No Facebook or news website check, no email checking, no coffee break, no chat with your colleague, no smartphone check, …
During the breaks you can do whatever you want.
The idea is that focused working helps your productivity and helps you fight procrastinating.
Because 1 Pomodoro is only 25 minutes, the threshold to start something is pretty low.
Why I’m giving it a try
There are several reasons that convinced me to give this technique a try. I’m using it for the first time while writing this blog post.
I am very skilled at procrastinating. It’s especially very hard for me to get started on a task.
The past years I’ve already introduced several ways to improve my productivity (I will write about these some other time) and have seen a great improvement.
But still the getting started part is a tough one for me.
Another benefit for me that I see from the Pomodoro technique is the idea of using available time more efficiently.
I have the habit of overestimating the time I need to do something.
When I only have 30 of 40 minutes left of available time before I need to leave the house or office to meet someone and I just finished a task, I often feel like there is not enough time to start something new. So instead I play some puzzle game on my phone or read Facebook or other time wasting things on the Internet.
But I think that by using the Pomodoro technique, after a while I will start to be able to put more value to smaller time slots and use these more efficiently.
(I’ve been able to write more than half of this post and my first Pomodoro hasn’t finished yet!)
Another advantage that I hadn’t thought of before is the competitive aspect of Pomodoro.
You can challenge yourself to finish as much Pomodoros in your day as possible and try to break your record the next day. And you can even compete with other people if you really want to.
I haven’t been able to test many apps yet. Instead I used the first free iPhone app I found in the App Store. (I think it is called Pomodoro Time). I choose it because it has an Apple Watch app too but I didn’t try this yet.
The first annoying thing I noticed is that it doesn’t disable screen locking. Maybe it’s because I’m new at this, but I like to see my remaining time while working. And maybe I just need to try the Apple Watch app first…
(While writing this chapter, my Pomodoro had finished. I took a short break and continued on my 2nd Pomodoro).
I’ve often thought about the fact that the typical office job, requiring 8 hours work a day and 40 hours a week is not very productive. Yet most people are still getting paid in this manner. People who are more productive are often paid the same as others that don’t do much in those 8 hours.
In the IT world, there is a shift towards productivity when using the Scrum methodology. Tasks are majored in order of magnitude (story points) instead of time and the goal is to finish a number of tasks , measured by the total amount of story points, in the scope of 2 weeks (a sprint).
But people are still required to be in the office 8 hours a day. There is no link yet between finishing a sprint and getting paid.
Wouldn’t a typical workday be less of a drag if you could only focus on the tasks to do instead of having to worry about getting your hours done, getting stuck in peak traffic because everyone works in the same 8 hour regime.
Wouldn’t you feel more valued when being rewarded for productivity instead of attendance?
Maybe Pomodoro is not the best tool for measuring someone else’s productivity, but it can surely help yourself to be aware of your productivity and your productivity potential.
I was able to finish this post in 2 Pomodoros (not included layouting and images).
I will try the same technique later today to see if it also works in an office environment where there are other sources of distraction that are often harder to ignore.
I wrote a follow-up post on this topic.