Trying out the Pomodoro Technique

[Starting a new Pomodoro timer of 25 minutes. My task is to write this blog post.]

Pomodoro TechniqueA while ago i picked up on Twitter a lot of enthusiasm for the Pomodoro technique. It is a time management technique which is very well suited for Agile Software Development.

Staffan Nöteberg is writing a illustrated book on the Pomodoro Technique, which I enjoyed reading a lot.

Basically, you have 5 steps in applying the technique and a bunch of rules.

Step 1: Start your day with planning

You need to maintain an Activity Inventory where you list up and estimate your tasks. Estimations are expressed in number of pomodori, being time units of 25 minutes. (Max 7 per task)

Every morning you select a number of tasks and write them on your To Do Today Sheet. That’s your commitment for today.

Step 2: Tracking: subsequent Pomodoro of 25 minutes each.

Choose a task to complete and whenever you’re up to it start a Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes and focus on finishing that task.

So until the timer rings… work focused on the task! Don’t start other tasks.

[I just remember that I need to answer a SMS message on my cell phone. But I’m in the middle of a Pomodoro, so I can’t do this now! I put it on the bottom of my To Do Today sheet so that I don’t forget this and mark the internal interruption with an ‘X‘ near my task.]

If you finish the task before the timer rings, continue reviewing the task, and draw a line through the task on your sheet when the Pomodoro rings.

Step 3: Recording

Recording is about listing up your daily observations such as the number of pomodori you completed that day. (your Pomodoro velocity).

You can record also the number of interruptions, number of voided pomodori,…

Step 4: Processing

Processing is about abstracting the raw data from the recording into information such as calculating averages of pomodori spent…

[RRRRIIIIING –Pomodoro is over... let me just complete that sentence] 

…on a task or the sum of pomodori you complete in a week.

[Now I take a break of 5 minutes. I’ll take a thee and answer that SMS message now. Back again and rewinding the Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes. Time is ticking again…] 

Step 5: Visualizing

In this last step you hold a personal daily retrospective to optimize your day. You can make for example a daily what I’ve learnt mind map. Or you can think about how to handle internal and external interruptions. Goal is continuous improvement.

The Rules:

  1. Once a Pomodoro begins, it has to ring!
  2. If a task takes more than 5–7 Pomodoros, break it down.
  3. If the task takes less than one pomodoro, add it up, and combine it with another task.
  4. The next pomodoro will go better :-)
  5. Don’t use the Pomodoro Technique for activities you do in your
    free time. Enjoy free time!

[go back, reading over and polishing the text a bit...]

This cheat sheet will help you getting started with the Pomodoro technique. Just give it a try!

[RRRIIIIIIING. Ok, let’s post this to my blog and draw a line through the task on my To Do Today sheet. And let’s take another break before I pick my next task.]