pomodoro

Time Management: The Pomodoro Technique

Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.

 
 

D

istractions and interruptions are two of the major productivity killers, and that is very true, I can assure you, in software development.
 
If only one member of your team is late with his/her roadmap, you could get a general delay on your project.
 
What could we do to mitigate or even eliminate this kind of trouble?
 
There are many techniques that could help us; one of the most efficient (it’s my opinion of course) is the so-called “Pomodoro technique”.
 

What is it?

 
The “Pomodoro” Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
 
The main idea behind this technique is something called “time-boxing”; the basic assumption is to concentrate your attention for a certain amount of time and mentally recharge after each interval of work.
 
The process is simple. We have only to get a “Pomodoro”; we could buy a physical one or use a software that give us the same features – I personally use “PomodoroApp” found on the Apple Store for free.
 
For every item on our to-do list, we budget our time into short chunks of work (they are our increments) and take breaks periodically. We work for 25 minutes, then take break for 5 minutes.
 
As we are working, we shouldn’t focus on the timer; let’s use our attention for the task chosen.
 
Each 25-minute work period is called a “Pomodoro” – a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (that is the English word for the Italian “Pomodoro”) gives the name to the method.
 
After four “pomodoros” have passed – 100 working minutes with 15 break time minutes – we take a 15-20 minute break.
 
Every time we finish a pomodoro, we mark our progress with an “X”, and note the number of times we had the impulse to procrastinate.
 
25 minutes is not too long and not too short to feel like we are working towards completing our task. By completing a Pomodoro we will feel more productive and build momentum that will help us get more things done.
 

Some tips to choose items from the list

 
If we are using a to-do manager, let’s go through our projects and decide which tasks we’d like to complete. If we are not using a to-do manager, we should use a piece of paper and a pen. A must-do in this case: let’s write down all the tasks to complete today.
 
A good idea is to prioritize our to-do list. “What are my 3 most important tasks?” is the question we should pose to ourselves.
Let’s list the tasks in the order given by our answer to the preceding question. This is an important tactic to always deal with our most important tasks first.


 

Some guidelines behind the technique

  • We can only work at the task chosen. No other tasks are allowed during our “Pomodoro”.
  • When our “Pomodoro” ends, we must stop right away. Even if we think we only need a few more minutes, STOP; it’s mandatory that we disengage from task for a short time to mentally recharge.
    Getting away from our desk is a good idea because it makes disengaging a lot easier.
  • When we didn’t finish our work in a “Pomodoro”, we have to move it to our next “Pomodoro” session.
  • When we finish our task before the timer expires, don’t stop. Let’s review our completed work till the timer ends. We always have to finish the 25 minutes session.
  • After four “pomodoros” we have to get a longer break session; it’s really important.
    Let’s do something totally unrelated to our task. A good idea is to get something to eat or to take a little walk.
    Let’s think that changing our environment we will sometimes get a different perspective on problems and tasks.

 

What are the benefits?

 
Frequent breaks keep our mind fresh and focused.
 
According to the official website, PomodoroTechnique.com, using the method is very easy and we will see results more quickly than we could think:
 
“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”
 
Always on the same site, we can read about working with and not against time:
 
“For many people, time is an enemy. We race against the clock to finish assignments and meet deadlines. The “Pomodoro” Technique teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it.”
 
Again on the same site, about eliminating burnout:
 
“Taking short, scheduled breaks while working eliminates the “running on fumes” feeling you get when you’ve pushed yourself too hard.”
 
Another advice, this time about managing distractions:
 
“Whether it’s a call, a Facebook message, or suddenly realizing you need to change the oil in your car, many distracting thoughts and events come up when you’re at work. The “Pomodoro” Technique will help you log your distractions and order them according to priority levels. Often, they can wait.”
 
The creator of this technique promises that it creates a better work/life balance because if we had an unproductive day, we often think that we can’t enjoy our free time…
 

Conclusions

 
One of the best things about the “Pomodoro” Technique is that it’s free (apart from €5,99 to buy a timer – price got from the official site – if you prefer it to the many apps at your disposal on the web). So even if you try it and hate it, you haven’t lost any cash.
 
The process isn’t ideal for every person, or in any line of work. But if you need a systematic way to tackle your daily to-do list, the “Pomodoro” Technique may fit your needs.
 
If you want to learn more, you can buy the hardcover or ebook or the audio book version of the book on the official site
 
Ah, I quite forgot it! I wrote this article using the “Pomodoro” technique….. and it worked!
 

I’m an enthusiastic and highly motivated PMP and Prince2 (Foundation) Senior Program Manager with 16+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. I often work in highly pressurized and challenging environments, managing a large-scale software development program up to an order value of €6M. I’m extremely professional in approach and behaviour, adaptable to change, very meticulous, collaborative, energetic, resilient, innovative, proactive and pragmatic. I’m passionate about process improvement, technology innovation, knowledge sharing techniques and how businesses can capitalize on social media integration. My greatest strength is helping to focus my organization’s efforts on the activities necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives in order to consistently meet both the customer’s and business’ needs; on time and under budget.

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