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Work with greater focus by applying the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a very simple and effective time management method created by Francesco Cirillo. The core principle behind the Pomodoro Technique is that work is done in time-boxed intervals of 25 minutes followed by a short break of 5 minutes. The 25-minute interval is called a pomodoro, a reference to the iconic tomato-shaped kitchen timer one can use to track the elapsed time. Every time you finish a pomodoro, you write the task down and record an X by it. At the end of the day you will have an overview of how much work was done and where your time was spent.

While working on a pomodoro, the goal is to maintain complete focus on your task and to not let yourself get distracted or interrupted. Sounds easy, right? You may find it is actually harder than it seems given the amount of stimuli our gadgets and work lives provide us, not to mention the random thoughts that pop up in our heads all the time.

I have been using the Pomodoro Technique for a few years now, both at work and at home, and I really like it. It is well known nowadays that human beings are generally bad at multitasking and that there is a steep cognitive price to pay for constantly switching between tasks. The Pomodoro Technique’s focus on a single uninterrupted task at a time helps you avoid these drawbacks.

As a developer, I find this particularly useful because many development tasks benefit from focused attention such as when you’re studying a new framework library, refactoring legacy code or iterating on the design and responsibilities of the classes implementing a new functionality.

The frequent breaks between the pomodoros are a great time to stand up from your desk, use the restroom and go grab some water. They remind you to keep a sustainable pace when working on something that is engaging and give you some respite from tasks that are not so appealing. More importantly, stepping away from work, even for such a short time, gives your brain an opportunity to rearrange information and make new associations, which may help you problem solve and understand different perspectives on a topic.

Of course, you won’t always be able to follow your Pomodoro plan, as things can change drastically over the course of a day and when that happens you just need to adapt to it. Also, I’ve found it hard to use the Pomodoro Technique in days with a lot of meetings or where ongoing collaboration with coworkers is required. But, in general, I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique to be a good fit for the type of work I do as a software developer.

So next time you notice someone working while a timer is counting down, you know there’s a good chance that a pomodoro is in progress. If the idea of having a bit more structure and focus to your working time sounds good to you, why don’t you give the Pomodoro Technique a go? Next time you’re working on a task, set a timer for 25-minutes and try maintaining complete focus on your task without distractions.

– James Siqueira, Developer