The pomodoro technique is starting to catch on in a lot of productivity circles. It is a very simple time-box system – work on something for 25 minutes straight then have a 5 minute break (totalling 30 minutes). Rinse and repeat, with a longer 10 minute break every 4th iteration. There’s a bit more to it, so I suggest checking out the book.
I’ve known about it for quite a while, but have been on and off with using it. I’ve finally decided I like it and it helps to have a good timer – like the Promodoro iPhone app. The key benefit I’ve found is that it gets me started on things. I say, ok, I’ll look at this bit of a project for 1 pomodoro (25/5 session) and see what happens.
Here are a few other suggestions from my experiences so far:
- Pomodoros work particularly well for tackling larger projects in big chunks. For smaller tasks (<25 minutes), batch similar things together to make up your 25 minutes (e.g. replying to a bunch of emails).
- I’m fairly laid back about the break. If I’m going well, I just keep going. No point breaking concentration and pulling yourself out of the zone. Ideally, if you are on a roll, do everything you can to stay there. The rules aren’t hard and fast.
- Having said that, follow the plan to start with. Don’t go playing with the 25 minute work time or 5 min rest window until you are used to how you work.
- Pomodoros are a great unit of measurement for a task. You can use them to say things like, I’m going to dedicate 4 pomodoros to project X today. This makes it easier to then measure how you go. Use an app to automate recording progress – or do it by hand as per the book if you really want to 🙂
I find the technique is really great for breaking procrastination. If you are stuck on something, just say, I’m going to spend 1 pomodoro doing what ever I can to make some progress on this, and stick at it for 25 minutes. Most of the time, I find I make at least a minor breakthrough and have some encouragement to keep going.
*And yes, a pomodoro is a tomato, so all of the comments above sound quite funny when you interchange “pomodoro” with “tomato”.