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I have used successfully the pomodoro technique for some time. I've found just one big problem that has caused a slight but constant loss of motivation in using it, causing in the end the need to stop applying it for some days.

Basically my work is made of three types of activity:

  1. Small tasks that can be accomplished quickly (time < 1p.)
  2. Big tasks that need some hours of work
  3. Big tasks (>1 p.) that must be interrupted because they require help from colleagues to be accomplished.

    a. Big tasks that need phone calls to be accomplished

I usually don't have problems with 1 (I schedule many small activities in one p.) and 2 (the best type to apply this technique), but when it comes to 3 it's a mess. If the colleague is there and ready I can keep working, otherwise the p. must be interrupted.

Sometimes I need to make a phone call to get what I need to go on, this is worse as I have to wait for the person I need to call to be ready thus interrupting one p. and scheduling another p. to make the call.

Worst case is when the phone call brings no progress in my work, I end up with 1p. interrupted to wait for the call, 1p. interrupted to make it (supposing that the call doesn't last 25 minutes) and the need to wait for work to be done on the other end of the cable.

In the end the questions:

  • how can I manage activities like in 3 and 3a avoiding to lose motivation with this technique?
  • Do you suggest better techniquest to manage my time?
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4 Answers

Pomodoro technique just doesn't work in that situation. The idea behind it is that you're expected to be uninterrupted, otherwise it breaks your train of thought.

The obvious, official answer is to schedule when they call you, but I'll assume that isn't possible.

A pomodoro is an atomic unit of time which can't be broken down. One possibility is to use smaller units like 15 or 10 minute pomodoros. This also helps with your 1st problem.

Otherwise, just treat it as lost unproductive time. It's not your fault. Schedule some trivial, non pomodoro tasks for those moments.

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Ideally, Pomodoro Technique is meant only for cases like (2) and not for 1, 3, 3(a) at all.

Here is how you should do it:

For tasks such as (1) Just do them as they get generated/applicable, there is no need to cluster them together and execute them one by one in a single Pomodoro.

With the practice of using the Pomodoro technique to accomplish the tasks such as 2, you should develop skills and metal mind set which allows you to do tasks such as 3 and 3(a) effectively (just like as in Pomodoro) but without having any timer running at all.

Another way to do it is, do tasks like (1) when you are having interruptions in (3) and 3(a) and do not reset the Pomodoro.

Having a To-do list of all the stuff you have to do would be helpful here, whenever you are interrupted in tasks such as 3 and 3(a) just have a look at what are the other tasks you have and switch to one of them.

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I have a todo list, however pomodoro technique's strength is in that it allows you to have atomic units of time to concentrate without distraction. This is why I wanted to know also if there are other time management techniques better suitable for my situation –  Gabber Sep 27 '12 at 21:19
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Btw why pandora and not pomodoro? Spell correction issues? –  Gabber Sep 27 '12 at 21:50
    
@Gabber It's just a spelling mistake. –  user221287 Sep 28 '12 at 8:28
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From my experience dealing for task type1 and type2.
When I'm in productive flow - I just skip all breaks and continue working on the task , until break I'm willing to take.

When I'm out of the flow , just taking break. Start timer and back in the flow with next task.

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A truly good thing about pomodoro technique are breaks. When the brain is in the flow we follow a precise path, we simply don't see better alternatives in our work because our brain is focused. When I'm programming, pomodoro rings and I take a break. When I return from breaks I see many new possibilities in what minutes before seemed a single choice task. I'd rather stick with breaks. See also my answer here –  Gabber Oct 12 '12 at 6:41
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up vote 0 down vote accepted

In the end pomodoro technique is about organization. When you need help from your colleagues you should be able to schedule that in advance. Maybe you don't know how to accomplish a task, but you totally know when you'll be doing a thing you don't know how to do.

My personal silver bullet:
I started to carefully write down what I'll do step by step when I plan my todo list in the morning (during the first pomodoro of my workday), this helps me understand when I'll need help. I also ask colleagues whose help I'll require if they have half an hour to work with me.

My worst enemy:
Incoming calls & requests are the only real problem, they count as an interruption and require rescheduling. When you can't reschedule you void the pomodoro.

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