I Tried Pomodora and I Felt Rushed

by Chris Maloney
Published 1-15-2016

I think a lot about efficiency. This applies to when I'm actively working in a project, and I want to make sure both the user experience and code/database queries are efficiently doing their job. I also think about it when I'm not working, because I just like it when things work correctly and as intended. So when I heard about this 'new' (it was actually developed in the 1980s) technique for software development, I thought I'd give it a shot. I read some recent blogs about how it keeps the mind fresh and free from distraction so you can actually get a lot done. 'Sounds great!', I thought. 

A Little Backstory

So for those that don't know, the Pomodora technique is a time management tool. You're supposed to pick a single task that you need to get accomplished, and then you spend a single Pomodora working on it without getting distracted. One Pomodora is 25 minutes long, and at the end of that Pomodora you take a 5 minute break. After 4 consecutive Pomodoras, you're supposed to take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. The Pomodoras are to be tracked, and if the task is completed early you spend the time 'overlearning' or completing additional tasks. 

The idea is that the fact you're being timed is supposed to improve your focus and prevent you from distracting yourself. The frequent breaks help your mind stay agile and/or allow what you've learned to sink in. 

Here's what really happened

In short, knowing that I was being timed made me nervous. I was more concerned more about how much time was left on the clock instead of the task at hand. Breaks happened too quickly and were too frequent for my liking. When it comes to software development and database work, the tasks I can actually get completed in 25 minutes are few and far between. I do like the idea of taking breaks to keep my mind fresh though. Often times when I step away from the keyboard I come up with the solution I'm looking for. I would consider doing one for 90 minutes with a 5-10 minute break perhaps, but I think what works best for me is to just take a break when I need one...

I don't remember what the major distractions where in the 80s, but I can tell you what they are now - email, texts, facebook, instant messages, etc. I agree 100% that these items are very distracting and can prevent you from getting 'real' work completed. That's why I completely close out my email tab when I'm doing something serious. People used to Google Chat me all day long, so I set my status to invisible permanently. If I start getting texts, I silence my phone. My Pomodora method is just getting rid of all distractions and working until the task is done. If I need a break after a few hours, I take one. The short timer and constant breaking ending up being more of a distraction than anything else I face.