The Pomodoro Technique

1 year ago · February 25, 2018 · 2:00 am

While writing my master thesis, I ceased the opportunity to test out the so called pomodoro technique. In reference to the widespread, tomato-shaped kitchen timers, this productivity method is based on time-slicing. In particular, phases of work and pause are repeated in multiple, sequential iterations. For instance, a ratio of 1:5 yields a 25 minute timeframe for focused work, and a 5 minute refreshment break. First, I was sceptic if it would make any difference at all taking into account its minimalistic rule-set. But after trying it out the very first time it worked instantly for me. I was very productive that day and wrote multiple pages, although I did not quite understand why it worked so well. Nonetheless, I had a suspicion, that it had something to do with the momentum that I gained by the repeated succession of finished work. In the end I think it it is all about establishing a feeling of progress for oneself, which then has a self-accelerating effect.

Another interesting point to consider is what to do during the breaks. I think this is situation-dependent, but a good rule of thumb is the heuristic of opposition. That is, I do the exact opposite of what I have done when working.

If I sat, I walk.

If I looked into a computer screen, I close my eyes.

If I was physically active, I actively regenerate by slowing down the movement patterns.

I found the technique so effective, that I instantly felt the need to craft my own Pomodoro Productivity Timer app. The user would start the pomodoro session with a work phase with a single button-click, and would then be notified acoustically about the end of the phase. Existing apps in the play store allowed the user to adapt phase durations, trace back their history of past pomodoro sessions, and also displayed the remaining time in a count-down fashion. I especially can not understand why people need to see how long their current phase lasts. This enables the user to anticipate the end of the phases, and thus slowing down the development of momentum. I mean, the whole idea of the technique is to eliminate distractions and to enable focused work. Glancing at the phone is not helpful in that regard.

The app was done over the weekend, where the hardest part was to decide on the actual sound effects that shall notify the user when to work and pause. First, I used rather agressive jingles with potential for inducing heart-attacks, as I noticed during the first test-runs. I realized that I had to change to rather soft jingles, that also hint to whether its now time to work or to pause. Be sure to try out the app and let me know about whether the sounds are appropriate.

Beside the Android App, I am also happy to announce the availability of an equivalent Web App available under timer.therefactory.bplaced.net.
Like always, its usage is for free, and please email me for any suggestions you'd like to share with me.