A Year of the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is method for improving productivity by segmenting work into 25-minute intervals. You focus intensely on a task for 25 minutes, then take a break. Rinse, repeat.

I began using the technique to study for the cryptography course I took last winter. The benefits were clear from the beginning. I enjoyed working in 25-minute segments and started using it at work as well. I want to share with you some of the things I learned along this year-long journey.

Update April 2019: I'm no longer 100% confident that the Pomodoro Technique is best suited for work. I'll follow up on this more later.

Update February 2020: I started using it again, I think it's a net benefit as long as you don't take it too seriously. The main point is to take breaks and not burn yourself out, not to rack up as many Pomodoro sessions as possible and burn yourself out.

The Pomodoro Technique is about breaks

Sure, you could study for 5 hours straight. But do you know how I feel after intensely focusing on something for 5 hours? Completely burned out and like I want to do something else the rest of the day.

Pomodoro helps me study or work for longer periods of time by giving me a strategy for taking breaks. By forcing me to stop every 25 minutes and decompress, I can sustain focused work for longer.

Intentionality

Before I hit the start timer button, I think to myself, “what do I want to accomplish in this interval?” Pomodoro has helped me be more intentional about my work.

Time Management

Since December I’ve been keeping track of all the Pomodoro intervals I do in a spreadsheet so I can see the distribution of where I spend my time.

At work I know that I can complete around 6-10 pomodoros in a day, about two of which will be email. This leaves me with about 30 pomodoros of product work per week. If I see that I’m spending too many pomodoros on a low-priority bug, I stop working on it. This system gives me evidence I can use to prove to myself to stop working on low-priority tasks instead of stubbornly trudging ahead and wasting more time.

Summary

This is all to say – I recommend trying out the Pomodoro Technique. It has improved the way I work, and it might do the same for you too.

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