A programmer shares his experience using the Pomodoro Technique while on the job, plus how he avoids the multitasking trap.
"The technique also helps me be a little smarter in how I do my job. Rather than re-architect a huge chunk of code, I’ll stop and think things through, and usually find that a simple, elegant, and easily-implemented solution is available."
"My first few days trying the technique were frustrating and tiring. I felt the oppression of the ticking clock, the twitching desire to check my e-mail once or twice just in case, and an exhausted relief at the end of a session. But then I started to internalize the "pomodoro" time unit; I found myself adapting to the rhythm quite naturally, and the time allotted to a task seemed to expand into an ample amount. Indeed, I’ve begun to feel time slow down in a surprising way: if I glance at my timer now and see that I still have five minutes left, I know that I can still get quite a bit done."
"The technique also helps me be a little smarter in how I do my job. Before, when I wasn't letting the timer set my pace, I was prone to investigate many more blind alleys. I might end up losing an entire day to one bad decision, backing out hours of effort. But knowing that I have a limited amount of time in which to finish my task, I now opt for the simpler approach. Rather than re-architect a huge chunk of code, I’ll stop and think things through, and usually find that a simple, elegant, and easily-implemented solution is available."
"That five-minute break at the end is just as important as the twenty-five minutes before. It's the time to take care of the coffee cup and the restroom, to stretch and crack knuckles and read the news, but it's also time to switch off the task-oriented part of the brain and let the unconscious burble up a bit. If a "pomodoro" ended in frustration, with a task unfinished and more tasks piling up, I'll often find this five-minute break from the project lets me come back refreshed and more likely to see my way out."