Continuing on the idea of finding focus, and repeating it ruthlessly.
This is something I’m practicing in an attempt to just figure out just how bad I am at focusing, and trying to fix it.
In case you don’t know what it is, the Pomodoro Technique is a productivity system where you give yourself a 25 minute period to focus on just one thing. You repeat this 25 minute period of focused-work until your task is complete, and each one is broken up by a five minute break period. That’s basically it. The idea is that youdo this throughout the day and measure all your work in the number of pomodoros they take, and use that to schedule your work day.
Practically everyone I know who picks up the system though doesn’t bother with tracking their pomodoros or in using them for estimating (it’s great for time boxing though). The thing about the system that makes it so popular is the basic rule that when your in a pomodoro, you focus on only one thing. Just one thing for 25 minutes means that email, twitter, talking to other people, getting coffee refills, answering the phone are all *off limits*.
When you first learn about the Pomodoro Technique, focusing on one thing for 25 minutes first sounds simple, then difficult. Then when you first try it, it starts out difficult, then gets easier. It’s a funny thing how little ever considering doing one thing for 25 minutes has come up before now and how much adjusting needs to be done mentally to work with that condition.
It’s always a harder to start a pomodoro than it is to finish it. After I’m in the middle of it, people interruptions aside, it’s smooth sailing. To try and reduce my anxiety with starting them, I’ve started making pomodoros a more regular part of my routine. As a result I’ve been trying to find more opportunities for a pomodoro.
Some effects of this:
- I’m paying more attention to the things I do that take up substantial amounts of time
- I’m noticing the activities I do that make me want to break focus more (e.g. I want to check Twitter more when I’m reading than when I’m programming)
- I’m able to see how more productive I am doing something in the course of a pomodoro compared to on it’s own.
- It makes me want to look for more opportunities to make use of pomodoros.
When the system wasn’t a routine for me, I found myself saying for a lot of the little tasks that “It’s just X, it would be too much trouble for me to pomodoro it.” After a little bit of time though of getting more used to the process, it switched to “That would be great to do with pomodoro.”
The Pomodoro Technique: http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/
Focus Booster App: http://www.focusboosterapp.com/
Pomodoro Timer: http://navel-labs.com/apps/pomodoro-timer
Pomodoro menubar app App: http://pomodoro.ugolandini.com/