I must admit that I have not been feeling very productive lately, especially with my personal projects.
In an effort to keep my life organized, I have these to-do lists, regarding different topics, for example, work, personal projects, books, you name it. Well, I have been feeling stuck, honestly, not completing many items.
I found myself blaming everything else and finding excuses very easily. After some time facing this situation, I stumbled upon a post about procrastination that clicked with me.
What if it’s not about your context, but instead, your emotions? Perhaps it is not about time, laziness, or bad organization, and instead it is about feelings.
I paused a moment and discovered that some of these tasks were bringing up different feelings on myself; some of these tasks seemed boring, other seemed tough, or even scary due to the looming possibility of failure. Faced with these emotions, it makes sense to distract ourselves with something that makes us feel better.
This distraction works short-term but eventually you must face all the dirt that you swept under the carpet.
Learning to identify these emotions is the first step to break the habit, and here I am, breaking the habit, writing…
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s (I was not born yet 🤯). The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Choose a task. The first step is selecting the task you want to complete. As a prerequisite, having an already prioritized list of tasks makes this step a whole lot easier, I’ve been using Microsoft To Do (formerly Wunderlist) for several years now so this is how I keep my life organized. I have task lists for different aspects of my life, personal, development, work, etc. so it is very easy to just pick the top task from any of this list and start.
Start the Pomodoro. This step is about commitment, you make a small oath to yourself: I will spend 25 minutes on this task, and I will not interrupt myself. We are surrounded by interruptions, external and internal, notifications, emails, you name it; so you need to commit and make sure you’ll not be distracted from your task. The standard length of a Pomodoro is 25 minutes.
Work. Immerse yourself in the task for the next 25 minutes. That’s it, just work and focus on the task.
Record it. When the Pomodoro rings, record it. That’s it, you’ve successfully completed an entire, interruption-less Pomodoro.
Take a break. Breathe, meditate, grab a coffee, walk or anything not work-related. The standard length for short break is 5 minutes.
More breaks. Every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break, yes, more breaks! Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, you may take a longer break. The standard length of a long break is 15 minutes.
Ok, after this short introduction let me share my experiencing after using The Pomodoro Technique as a developer for several years now. 🍅
It worked for me! However, I’ve done some modifications, I found that most of the times 25 minutes chunks are not enough to achieve a significant piece of work, and the amount of time I spent to get back on track is too much, that leaves me with very little time of focus on each Pomodoro.
So, I’ve opted for increasing periods by 2, so instead of 25 minutes for focus I spent 50 and the same goes for breaks.
There you have it, Pomodoro technique is just and old productivity strategy among many others, but I’ve found that it works for me, it allows me to balance my time between work and active breaks and also, it allows me to measure the time I spend doing some particular tasks which is very useful for my estimates as a developer.