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Pomodoro Productivity Technique for Development

The Pomodoro Technique


Pomodoro is the italian word for tomato.

The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo during the 1980s to improve productivity and combat procrastination.

Why does this productivity technique involve a tomato you ask? Well Francesco used a kitchen timer that was shaped like a tomato like the one in the picture above. So my thoughts are he didn't want to procrastinate and overthink a name for his technique so he just used the word pomodoro :).

How does it work

Basically it involves the following steps:

  • Decide on a task to be done (typically something that can be achieved within 25 minutes)
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes
  • Start working with no distractions, none at all.
  • When the 25 minutes are over, take a 5 minute break. This is seen as 1 pomodoro.
  • After you've completed 4 pomodoro's you can then award yourself with a longer break of 15 - 30 minutes.

How does this apply to Software Development?

Sometimes as a software dev there can be uninteresting parts of the job, maybe you're modelling a database, or creating a data layer to fetch data, or anything else that can be repetitive. This technique helps in a huge way to get through the grunt work.

It also makes you super disciplined, as soon as that timer goes off you start working, no checking messages, no social media, nothing. Just focused work. You will find you get things done way faster this way.

Improves Planning

After a while of using this technique you will be able to estimate tasks in terms of pomodoros i.e this service layer integration should take me 2 pomodoros for each model.

How to Start

It's recommended to start with 6 pomodoros for the day, you don't want to over commit. Work your way up from 6 - 8 then possibly move further upward.

In actual time this is 3.5 hours of work a day including breaks, I know this sounds like a little but you will be amazed at how much work you get done.

The original technique places a large emphasis on planning before starting your day. I deviate from this a bit as I find that it causes me to procrastinate about what to do (yes, I'm a serial procrastinator). I don't plan my day in detail beforehand - my plan usually comes to life as I start working - i.e after the first pomodoro of the day.

Make it your own

Take what works for you from this productivity technique i.e if 25 minute work session are too short increase it to 40 minutes for example.

If you've used it, tried it after this article or tried it before, let me know in the comments.

Timer Tools

Instead of going out and getting yourself a kitchen timer, use one of these below:

Tomighty - Desktop Application
Marinara - A Chrome extension

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