Why am I not in a pomodoro?

When you combine Getting Things Done (GTD) with the Pomodoro Technique (PT), the result is super hero productivity. PT entails that you work in 25 minute blocks of ultimate focus, referred to as pomodoros, each followed by 5 minutes of ultimate goofing off. After every 4 pomodoros, you get to take a longer break. Pomodoro people tend to use some form of kitchen timer (often in the form of a red tomato), or software such as the Focus Booster, and they tend to be at least three times as productive. 🙂

How can a technique named after something this red and tasty not be fantastic?

Whatever the case may be, we’re great fans of the technique and as a rule combine it with our GTD implementation. We do sometimes refer to the pomodoros as “work units”, as this is sometimes easier to explain to management. One might think that 25 minutes is quite short, but most people are generally quite amazed by the high level of focus that can be maintained during this period. The 5 minute break is almost like spending time under the shower: Deliberately goofing off and not thinking about the problem at hand often allows solutions and really good ideas to bubble up spontaneously from one’s sub-conscious.

Besides convincing you of the benefits of PT, the main message of this post to those of you already applying PT, is the following: At any time during the (work) day, if you’re not in a pomodoro or in the short break between pomodoros, you should ask yourself this question: Why am I not in a pomodoro?

In other words, one should either have a really good reason for this, or immediately start that new pomodoro. We noticed in ourselves,before we became TimeScapers of course :), and in other practitioners that people sometimes operate OOP (out-of-pomodoro) because they think that the activity doesn’t fit, for example mail processing or some other miscellaneous small action. Our advice is ABP: Always Be Pomodoroing. The risk with working OOP is that it can spiral out of control, breaking the whole PT focus-zone/goofing-off rhythm, and this is a productivity killer. Don’t fool yourself: You can and should always define a pomodoro.

Let us know in the comments what your experience is with this phenomenon, or if you’d just like to chat about PT in general.