According to lifehacker, the pomodoro technique came out as the most popular productivity method. I’ve been using this neat little technique since college. And now work. Pomodoros for exam prep was easy - you sit in front of the book while the clock is ticking and you go for a walk when it isn’t. But using pomodoros for programming turned out to be slightly more complicated than that. Here’s what I found:

  1. Do NOT use pomodoros for debugging. You cannot estimate when you will figure out what is causing that bug. It can take anything between 2 hours to 2 days.

  2. Do not use pomodoros to set up your dev environment. You can install visual studio and SQL server while wading through nonsense at /r/nonsense. Save up your pomodoros for tasks that actually require focus.

  3. Set aside pomodoros for thinking. Saves a lot of time later.

  4. Your pomodoros will be interrupted. That’s okay.

  5. Reply to emails on pomodoro breaks. If there are no emails to reply, take a walk.

  6. It’s okay to extend your 5 minute break by another 2 minutes.

  7. I’ve never been able to do those 4 pomodoros in a row and take the bigger 15 minutes break. I don’t think anyone can do that.

  8. You can’t do 14 programming pomodoros a day. If you can do 8 a day, fantastic - you’ve done a lot of work. 6 Pomodoros, is good. I think anything more than 8 means you will be staying late in the office. That’s okay too. The thing is, if you do not count all the debugging and email-replying and loitering-around and still managed to tick away more than 5 pomodoros, it’s not a wasted day.

  9. The real reward of using pomodoros is not that you do more work per day, but that you can now measure how much work you do. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

  10. kanbanflow is a pretty good tool with a built-in timer. Arguably better than pen and paper. But ticking off pomodoros on a big white board is more satisfying.

My two cents.

Estimated 4 pomodoros and did it in 2. What a wonderful day!