Until earlier this year I didn't really think about the pomodoro timer. It was something that came up a lot in programming challenges and there were tons of them on the internet and in app stores. But then I discovered how useful it was at work. Here's why.
It took me a while to notice, but I eventually realised that the trouble with working from home was that I didn't get distracted. At work I'd have people coming to my desk to ask questions, there'd be something going on in the office that I'd tune into. People brought dogs in that would want attention. Even going to the kitchen for a drink could end up turning into a chat.
At home there's none of that. There is some: there might be something interesting going on outside, the postman might deliver a parcel, but it's not as much. Colleagues trying to reach you will have to use email or messaging and that's easier to ignore than a person at your desk.
As a result I quite often got into something and only realised how long I'd been doing it until something hurt and I looked at the clock. The Pomodoro timer makes me take a break every 25 minutes (unless I ignore it...).
There are days where you have to do something boring or that you hate. It needs doing, it has to be done and it's hard to contemplate the next n hours of it. With the Pomodoro timer, you only have to contemplate 25 minutes of it at a time. 25 minutes is an amount of time it's possible to get through and makes the task less daunting.
When you're stuck on a problem sometimes the best thing to do is to take a break. When in the office I used to find that going to the toilet worked well. It was a bit of a walk, so by the time I'd got there, I'd generally come up with an idea.
I'll sometimes spend my 5 minute break playing around on my phone or I'll do some job around the house, like a bit of tidying or putting some washing away. It's spending some time away from my desk that really helps.
It just is. I initially thought that effectively only working for 50 minutes every hour would mean I'd get less done. But actually I get more done. Because I know I have to spend 25 minutes focussing on work and then spend 5 minutes doing something else. I'm more efficient in that 25 minutes than I would be in a half an hour spent sometimes focussing and sometimes drifting off.