The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘pomodoros’ (from the Italian word for ‘tomato’) separated by breaks. The book Pomodoro Techniques Illustrated (affliate link) is written by Staffan Nöteber (a software programmer) and describes how you can be more productive using the technique. I picked up the book last week after reading Swaroop’s review. It was an easy read and I finished most it in the car going from Dallas to Houston (My friend Tim was driving).
The book breaks down the technique into 5 stages:
- Planning: Extract the most important things from your overall task list into your daily to-do list. This is done once at the beginning of the day.
- Tracking: Track metrics per pomodoro, like interruptions, completed vs abandoned pomodoro, etc.
- Recording: File your observations at the end of the day.
- Processing: Analyze your recorded raw data and turn it into information you can act on.
- Visualizing: Organize the information to improve your process.
A couple of other things from the book that I need to remember:
- Work on the most important thing on your daily to-do list.
- If you can’t help but interrupt your pomodoro, void it, take a break and start a new one rather than pausing and resuming the current one.
- We procrastinate because it gives us temporary relief from the stress of doing the task.
- Estimation is just guessing based on empirical knowledge. A good way to estimate the number of pomodori you will finish today is to look at how many you did yesterday.
- If an activity estimate is bigger than 7 pomodori, break it down into smaller activities.
- Make sure you do not try to get things done like responding to email in your rest period between different pomodori.
- Working overtime is not sustainable.
I give the book a rating of 5/5 and recommend it to my friends. I have used the Pomodoro Technique before, but reading this has book makes me feel much more prepared to utilize it fully. Another lesson I have learned is that I do not have to use the Pomodoro Technique all the time. I find it ideal to use when I am procrastinating a lot, or having a hard time focusing.