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Has anyone tried using Pomodoro technique to work on two unrelated projects? Like alternating 25 minute spells going back and forth between two projects.

I currently have a possibility to try this technique: I have two projects of the same priority. One of them is a little boring for me, the other one is exciting. So, I thought that maybe switching between them like I described above will stimulate me to move both of them forward. On the other hand, I am worried that it may break my workflow and I won't be as efficient as I would be if I worked on these projects dividing my workday in two.

If you have tried this what were the results? If not, how do you reckon this will affect my performance?

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2 Answers

As Gruber states the human brain is not ready for a "round robin".

If you still want to try this method, you could change to the other project on the large pause after four pomodoros. But I woudn't recommend it.

Or maybe you could add some gamification. As you complete goals on the boring project, you allow yourself to work N pomodoros on the exciting project.

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Frequent switching between tasks (as well as "multi tasking") should always be avoided, because of the very high cost associated with the switching. The human brain does not function at all like a computer which is good at alternating between different processes frequently. Instead, the brain loses focus and needs a lot of time to get up to speed with something different.

Getting into an efficient state, sometimes called "flow", often takes as much as 40 minutes. This means that you would have a low probability of working efficiently.

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The key word for me in this answer is "always" (switching should always be avoided). Is it really applicable even when tasks don't especially require creative approach? For example in my case one of the projects is, basically, learning and the other requires analyzing, organizing and documenting. –  Limbo Exile Oct 7 '13 at 10:01
    
@Limbo Exile: I said frequent switching. If there is no creative input in the projects (for instance, project A is washing spoons, and project B is washing forks) then the cost of switching is negligible. Otherwise, if you really want to switch, you can select different projects for different workdays, since you will have to stop working with the current project anyways when you call it a day. –  Gruber Oct 7 '13 at 11:20
    
Computers are also (relatively) bad at task switching, it's just that it happens so fast we don't notice ;-) –  Jan Doggen Oct 11 '13 at 15:03
    
@Jan Doggen: What operating system are you running... ? –  Gruber Oct 11 '13 at 15:05
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