Good programmers are always in search of tools to make them even more productive. Be those text processors, application launchers, IDEs, we are never a hundred percent satisfied with our toolbox. Maybe this is an extension of our day-to-day behavior, one of constantly looking to improve the execution of a task or simpler - not to say minimalist - manners to solve a problem.
Besides that, another similar problem is faced by members of our class: the never-ending search for time, focus or task management methodologies. It was during one of those searches that I found a tool that soon became one of my favorites: the Pomodoro Technique.
Created by Italian Francesco Cirillo at the end of the eighties, the Pomodoro Technique is a very simple time management methodology. Using a "timer", the user defines periods of 25 minutes. During those periods, the user should focus exclusively on a single task, ignoring any interruption.
Each one of the intervals is called a "pomodoro" (tomato in Italian) and is followed by a short pause, three to five minutes long.
The idea behind this method is the perception that calculated pauses increase mental agility and allow the user maximum dedication during a specific period.
Below are the five basic steps for the implementation of the Pomodoro Technique:
- Decide on the tasks that will be executed. Make a list containing the tasks more likely to be completed in the next hours;
- Start the timer set for 25-minutes periods;
- Work until the timer alarm is triggered;
- Short pause (3 to 5 minutes);
- Between each cluster of 4 "pomodori", take a longer break (15 to 20 minutes).
Some additional observations come to mind:
In case of being interrupted during a "pomodoro", consider it "voided". In these cases, restart the timer and resume the work.
Finished the task before the "pomodoro" is ended? A quick analysis of the list defined in Step 1 may help decide if you should start a new task or spend the final minutes polishing the finished task.
The Pomodoro Technique goes very well with pair programming, however, 25 minutes cycles can be insufficient. During pair sessions, we noticed that the increase of sessions to 45 minutes cycles rendered them more productive. We also doubled the breaks to maximize relaxing time between each "pomodoro".
The official timer of the methodology, in a tomato's shape, can be acquired in the Pomodoro Technique official site.