For more than a year, I have been using my own geeky implementation of the Pomodoro Technique and I have had tremendous success with it. Wanted to see if anyone else was using it to success and how you go about it.
Here is what has worked for me:
1) 30 minute Blocks
The traditional Pomodoro Technique recommends 25 minutes of work with a 5 minute break up to 4x then a longer break after the fourth Pomodoro. Personally I like 30 minute blocks. Easier to tally up total hours of focused work.
2) Tracking with Day One and TextExpander
I have two journals in Day One: “Today” and “This Week”. My today journal is where I track my work through out the day. I have two TextExpander snippets that I use in my daily journal. The first one is a list of four questions and 3 action items that I use to start and chart my day:
- What has your attention?
- What progress did you make yesterday?
- What are you thankful for right now?
- What 3 things do you want to accomplish today?
After that, when I am ready to start a new Pomodoro (30 minute block of uninterrupted, focused work)
I type “pomx” and I have a snippet that:
- Calculates thirty minutes from right now
- Calculates 5 minutes from when the Pomodoro ends
- Has a place for me to write out what project I am working on as well as take a break
3) SkullCandy Wireless headphones and Focus@Will Music
When I am actually working, I put my headphones on, start a 30 minute timer in the Focus@Will app, write down the project I am working on and then go to town. It is amazing how incredible this little ritual has become. As soon as I feel the headphones on my head and hear the music, it’s like I enter the Deep Work dimension and get lost. I am constantly shocked at how much I can get done in 30 focused minutes as well as how quickly it goes by.
4) Focus App
I love the Focus App! You can find it at www.heyfocus.com and what it does is add an extra layer of security to your block of time that I have just created with my journal and Pomodoro timer in Focus@Will. Essentially, you designate those apps or websites that are particular time-waster temptations and you add them into the Focus app list. Then, when I start my Focus@Will timer, the very next thing I do is hit the keyboard shortcut to activate the Focus app (I also have the Focus app set to 30 minute intervals by default).
Then the fun happens! When focus is active, what it does is essentially block those apps and websites from you for the period of time time you have allotted. If you try and visit one of your distractable websites, Focus overrides the browser with some inspirational quote to remind you that its work time. When the timer inside Focus ends, everything is unlocked again.
So If I do it right, both of my timers start and stop at the same time giving me clear boundaries for when I am doing concentration-centric work and when I am free to take a break.
This system of tracking my time, listening to concentration music and protecting myself from my own distracted internal curiousity has paid incredible dividends in my daily productivity.
If you use the Pomodoro technique or something similar how is it working for you?