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Mike Riley

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Pomodoro Technique Illustrated Book Review

January 20, 2010

Like many modern world technologists, I have so many milestones to achieve in so little time.  While I consider my time management skills fairly well sharpened, I'm always open to suggestions for improvement.  The Pomodoro Technique offers just such an opportunity.  Does it deliver?  Read on to find out.

I have to admit when I first heard of the Pomodoro Technique a few years ago, I didn't think much of it.  Having already been exposed to and tried several time management flavors of the month, I was skeptical that one created with a kitchen timer in the shape of a pomodoro (Italian for tomato) could hold much interest.  However, as I began seeing Pomodoro timer applications available for desktops and mobile devices, I concluded that it might be worthwhile to investigate further (though the number of Pomodoro apps have yet to come close to the number of Getting Things Done - GTD - app iterations across these same platforms).  It also helped that its a technique geared toward developers who practiced Agile or Scrumm approaches at their day jobs.

At its heart, the technique is essentially boxing a single 'to do' objective into a 25 minute block of time and having the discipline to focus on a single task during that timespan.  Sounds easy, but it can be a struggle acclimating to this degree of focus, especially if you're used to having instant messaging, email and twitter clients running behind your code window.  Measuring your progress is also emphasized to help encourage positive behavioral change as personal productivity increases.

Although I never previously read the free downloadable PDF from Francesco Cirillo's (the technique's creator) website, Pomodoro Technique Illustrated prompted me to do so.  The basic tenants discussed in the book are repeated in this text, but I found Pomodoro Technique Illustrated more aligned with my experiences.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that the book was written by a developer for a developer audience rather than a broader 'self-help' market.  Each of the seven chapters opens with a light-hearted exchange between "A Cucumber and an Artichoke" to help emphasize that chapter's theme.  These are One Activity at a Time, Context, Mechanics, Interruptions, Estimate, Adapt and Team.  The book is peppered with the author's hand-drawn color illustrations that further emphasize each topic.  The book is also just under 150 pages and can be read in an evening.  However, consistently committing to its recommendations will take weeks or even months.  I tried the technique but have to admit I was only disciplined to stay with it for a little more than a week before I began sliding back into my old behaviors.  I'm not sure if that's because my old behaviors worked more effectively for my time management practices or if the environment I work in is too dynamic to permit the dedicated 25 minutes of uninterrupted work.  However, during that brief experience, I did perceive a higher level of productivity so I'm planning on giving the technique another try when current projects end and new ones begin.  I also believe that the intent to pursue this technique has to be clearly communicated to your coworkers so they respect the change you're trying to instill and support you with this approach.  Consider yourself the test case and if your co-workers (and especially your supervisor) discover a boost in productivity, the Pomodoro Technique may be more widely adopted in your own organization.

 



Title:  Pomodoro Technique Illustrated: The Easy Way to Do More in Less Time
Author: Staffan Nöteberg
Publisher: The Pragmatic Bookshelf
ISBN: 978-1-93435-650-0
Pages: 144
Price: $34.95 US

 

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