Saturday, August 25, 2012

Link of the Week: The Pomodoro Technique

This week's link is for the Wikipedia page about the Pomodoro Technique. It sounds fancy, but "Pomodoro" is simply the Italian word for "tomato" and this technique takes its name for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that the technique creator originally used.

The basic concept is simple. Commit to a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, and work on the task until the timer stops. If an interruption arises, either defer the interruption until the end of your 25 minute interval (itself called a "pomodoro") or abandon the pomodoro if the interruption can't wait. Once you've completed your pomodoro, if you intend to keep at your task, take a five minute break before diving in for another 25 minutes. If you complete four sets (two hours, in total, with the breaks) then take a longer break. The Wikipedia page provides some additional information and some of the rationale behind the approach.

I haven't personally used this technique but know multiple people who swear by it for both writing and software development. There's a company out there which sells official timers, a book, etc. but for experimenting with this technique, I would suspect that the bare bones as described on the Wikipedia page are sufficient.

Have you used Pomodoros in your work? If so, what's your experience been with them?

5 comments:

  1. When I was trying to complete my thesis - the most tedious and high-intensity, high stakes writing task I've ever done - one of my mentors told me that generally speaking we are capable of focusing on a task for twenty minutes. After that we take a break to reset, even it it's just a few seconds of staring off into space. He suggested a twenty minutes on, ten minutes off pattern of work. When I was really stuck, I used it to cajole myself into writing: twenty minutes and then you can play a video game for ten minutes! It worked.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth! I may have to give this a try sometime, especially if I'm feeling particularly unmotivated. 20 or 25 minutes really isn't *that* long, after all. :)

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  2. I love my pomodoro. It really works.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Deborah. I haven't given this a try yet, though I'm not sure it's ideal for me since I seem to do best when I can sit down and just dart right through something. Then again, since I haven't given it a try, maybe it would indeed work for me, especially on the days when I'm struggling to get going!

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