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I looked in The Pomodoro Technique book and didn't see this referenced, but what should you do if you know you can't finish a Pomodoro? Let's just say I'm using 25 minute work blocks and 5 minute rest blocks for 30 minute Pomodori. If it's not 8:10am and I have a meeting at 8:30am, I can't finish my 25 minute work block before my meeting.

The two options that I've thought up already:

  • Take a longer "break", but be productive with it. Use it to reprioritize my tasks by going through my list of unplanned/urgent tasks and eliminate ones that are not necessary and order to the others into my list of planned tasks, or perhaps eliminate some smaller tasks such as gathering tools and supplies for up coming tasks.
  • Run a normal Pomodoro. Void the Pomodoro when the meeting starts, since it was unfinished. Go to the meeting, then resume with a 5 minute break to reassess the current status of the tasks, add new tasks, and reprioritize.

I'm sure there are other options. What would you recommend in this situation, and why would you recommend it?

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4 Answers 4

You have two productive options here:

  1. Look for a task you have to do that you think would not fit a full Pomodoro but rather 80% of it.

  2. Do a bunch of short tasks that only take some minutes each:

    • Clean up and prepare your work environment for the current day.

    • Do some GTD, Pomodoro or E-mail processing; look what you did yesterday and will do today.

    • Prepare yourself for attending the meeting.

Whether you need to pause for 5 minutes after the meeting is up to you...

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How would you record either of these options? Treat it as an unfinished Pomodoro or somehow record it as a shortened Pomodoro? The reason I'm asking is because I'm actually working on extending the Pomodoro Technique with some of the more detailed estimation techniques and statistical analysis from other time management techniques. –  Thomas Owens Sep 19 '11 at 0:08
    
@ThomasOwens: Tricky question, the first one surely represents actual work. The latter really depends on whether it is defined as actual work by the time estimation/management techniques. On an unrelated note, I guess moving the Meeting or arriving earlier at work are no options? –  Tom Wijsman Sep 19 '11 at 0:18
    
I think the second represents work that falls into the category of "organization". Preparing for the day and any activities (such as the meeting) in terms of material and supplies, notes, dealing with email early, putting in requests for information, assigning tasks to others, and so on are things that need to be done and enable other work would count as a Pomodoro. I just haven't figured out how to track that effort effectively. I think tracking portions of a Pomodoro might lead to problems (as in, "why can't I track portions of any uninterrupted Pomododo? what makes this special?") –  Thomas Owens Sep 19 '11 at 0:22
    
Exactly, the 25-5 min Pomodoros are not "demanded by the law" :D You can always work around to a time interval the best suits you :) –  Shady M. Najib Sep 20 '11 at 17:16
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@ThomasOwens I didn't mean you should do that all the time, but being flexible when needed (before a meeting or by the end of your working day) won't mess up your estimations. –  Shady M. Najib Sep 21 '11 at 16:48

It depends on the circumstances. Not being productive during the remaining time can be a burden if the meetings are recurrant but it may also be counter-productive depending how demanding are the meetings.

Very demanding

Say the next meeting refers to a very important matter. You will want to be at your best mood and that may not be possible if you have been working on a broken pomodori for the last 20 minutes. If the meeting is very demanding, the amount of time you'll have to be focused adds up to more than a pomodori.

Solution. Use the remaining time for organization and minor tasks.

Not really

Some meetings are merely bureaucratical and are deemed as important just because or it simply doesn't require as much concentration.

Solution. Work hard in the remaining time as if it was a complete pomodori and void it as recommended. The meeting will be your break.

I don't know

It varies. You don't know how serious the discussion or the topics weren't previously defined.

Solution. Save the last 5 minutes before the meeting to take a break or longer depending how many you've already completed. You can keep up with your activities and rest assured this won't contribute to a burnout during the meeting.

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I have various meetings, and they are usually scheduled a week in advance. Some are bureaucratic (all hands meetings). Others (project meetings, program meetings, reviews/inspections) vary in intensity a as things happen in the project/program and we are briefed on their impact and new tasks that have arisen at them, so it's hard to predict going in, but these are typically meetings where I do need to be an active participant. –  Thomas Owens Sep 21 '11 at 13:20

This is not exactly for your question but I want to suggest you,especially for kind of these times using Interrupters Log Worksheet

enter image description here

Here their suggestions;

  1. Keep An Interrupters Log
  2. Analyze and Conquer Interruptions
  3. Put Your Phone to Work for You (Not Against You)
  4. Catch Your Breath
  5. Learn to Say "No"
  6. "Available" and "Unavailable" Time
  7. "Invitation Only" Time
  8. Uncontrollable Interruptions

Read how you can use this tool..

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+1, Keeping a log and stats about interruptions and their types your start to notice patterns and block common interrupters (boss, co-worker, phone-calls, email, unplanned work, etc.). @Thomas About your formal question, I use this method: if the interruption exceeds 5 minutes I void (drop) the current Pomodoro and add that entry to my interruptions log. –  Lorenzo Solano Oct 4 '12 at 2:56

Yes, there is a better option. You can schedule the interruption itself as being part of the Pomodoro. Recall that for tasks that take less than 25 minutes, the Pomodoro technique recommends batching. The classical application would be if you needed to make two different phone calls that would take about 10 minutes each -you would schedule them as one pomodoro. Your meeting is no different. You can schedule the first part of your meeting (or the entire meeting) as the second part of your pomodoro.

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