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I've tried using Pomodoro Technique when I was studying, though I wouldn't dare use it when I'm programming. It is somewhat helpful when I have to watch videos of lectures and take notes. I thought I needed it because I was distracted a lot. But then my focus improved, and I also forgot to turn on the timer.I use to track time for things I do, but then measuring quantity of my work somehow backfired on my sense of it's quality. I feel like I've done a lot, but didn't have much quality in it, because I thought of amount of time I've put into it.

There were other problems too: lack of time, excess of time, timer itself being a distraction, stressing out to fit my task into a certain period of time...

That made me wonder, when is it actually a good time to use Pomodoro? Whatever I try to do, now that I can focus more easily, I find it non-applicable. I understand if it's used for mundane tasks, but can't see how to apply it when you can't just stop doing something,or it's just a bigger bother to try to fit something in the certain period of time. It kind of became a distraction, rather than to prevent distraction.

Is Pomodoro useful only when people are easily distracted ? I've tried it, but I have no idea if it's a task (studying) I should have used it for.

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Just a side-note - The very short version of my answer to your other (deleted) question is: Doubt is natural & perfectionism can be a self-imposed trap. Nobody is a complete package - we play to our strengths and compliment each other on our way to success. Ways to avoid decision paralysis - Being open to exploring more than one avenue, Alternatively random probability in low-consequence situations (a dice or coin can work for this), & brute force decision making in matters of urgency (sometimes the cost of pondering a decision is greater than the price of a sub-optimal choice). –  Avestron May 21 '14 at 21:50
    
I guess the only solution is to try it myself, despite all my doubts.I often thought that most people have right answers to right question,and only I struggle like a noob.I envy people who are true explorers and aren't afraid to make a mistake.I like the ideas you offered, I do have (already) a way to test that dice method.Sometimes it's even hard to choose which daily task to finish first and there are few of them. After some searching last night, I also found out I should make and information diet and find my own way of doing certain things. Thanks 4 replying to my deleted question :) –  user7522 May 22 '14 at 8:14

5 Answers 5

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I was gearing up for the most examinations of my life a few weeks ago. I'm reasonably good at studies however, I do have a tendency of getting distracted early and taking irregular breaks which eventually end up breaking my study schedule.

The reason Pomodoro works is that it establishes regularity, but with certain boundaries. The 25 minute study sessions and 5 minutes breaks are perfect because they allow you to cool off after a session of concentration. It is extremely important to take these breaks in the right manner. Don't do anything diametrically opposite to studying. That's only for the long breaks.

As a programmer myself I can tell you that Pomodoro hasn't had much effect on me in that respect because as a programmer you usually end up looking to finish certain goals and not just link it to time. For example, you'll say, "Hey. I need to add this feature to my app." If you try to break your flow in the middle of your coding, it'll just take more time for you to finish the job.

However, Pomodoro when used in things like studying is extremely effective.

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I do use Pomodoros on activities where I'm able to concentrate too. I actually use them to force myself to take breaks. I get up at least every other Pomodoro. And I'll write a unit test or put a TODO in a document so I can resume and get right back in the flow again quickly.

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Looking from another perspective, when you're using the pomodoro technique, you can drill down your tasks to make them smaller and when you finish a task and say you have some 3-5 minutes left, you can use this time to re-read your code, rethink your solution, improve it a little bit, etc. There is always a lack of time for these activities. I think this can improve the quality of your production.

Still, I would not focus on the time - if I cannot do a task for a pomodoro interval, I would be disappointed and schedule it for my next one.

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I find it most useful when what I'm trying to do has no really clear boundary, or next action. Next actions are really easy for me to jump on, but something blurry is extremely difficult for me. Particularly if it's not something I'm excited about. For example, a programming project for work in which I haven't really defined what the problem is, I just know I need to spend time on it. So, I set a timer, and promise myself to work on it for that long. Often times racing against the clock gets me to a momentum I wouldn't have otherwise arrived at.

Your timer shouldn't distract you. I really like Timebar for Mac because it's visually there always, but doesn't make any noise.

If you don't feel like you need it for a particular task, I wouldn't use it.

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Someone want to tell me why this was downvoted? –  counterbeing May 13 '14 at 17:05

I recommend reading through this entire answer twice. I find that the pomodoro technique is more effective for activities that are complex and require a lot of contextual focus. It is especially helpful for tasks that benefit from brilliant insights and constant improvement and learning, like programming, writing, studying, problem solving activities, or skill based activities. If you are doing simple things that are are easy to stay on track with or that you can't really mess up with poor planning or that don't benefit much from brilliant insights, or that don't really have as much room or need for learning and improvement, it is not quite as helpful or as necessary to follow the technique so strictly. When you first use the technique, what I just said seems completely wrong. For complex tasks, the ring interrupts your flow just after it really helped you get into it. It builds up your concentration and rhythm to the point that you feel you don't need it and it is holding you back. This is missing the point.

You are supposed to start each pomodoro with a 5 minute review. Then work for 15 minutes. Then review or repeat what you just did for 5 minutes. What? This sounds horrible! Only 15 minutes of actual work? How could anyone get complex, long running tasks that require a lot of context completed working that way? Allow me to explain.

The starting review helps you to get out of break mode, pull the context back into your head, and plan ahead a little. It reminds you of all the things you realized during the ending 5 minute review/repeat stage. It gives you a chance to benefit from what your subconscious learned while doing background processing during the 5 minute break you just finished. Personally, I don't always take a full five minutes for this starting review. I basically know when I am done and ready to plow ahead with the task. But it should not be neglected. Then you work concentrated for 15 minutes, plowing ahead. Then you do 5 minutes of review or repeat what you did. During the review/repeat you will likely realize you forgot some important details or did things in a less than ideal order. You are likely to realize a slight change in direction that will help you achieve your most immediate priority faster and prevent you from going down a rabbit hole. Brilliant solutions you could not think of before may suddenly pop into your head, or that may happen during the starting review. You can take notes of your insights or quickly change your work. Then you have the 5 minute break. Don't do anything mentally complex during your break. Relax or do something short and simple, like starting a load of laundry. During this break, your subconscious will process what you just did. This will enhance learning, improvement, insight, and problem solving. If you do it right, you should at times get random insights during your break when you thought you weren't working anymore.

If you read the book, there is a lot more to fully following the technique than what I described. But it is all designed to help you constantly stay focused on your true priorities, learn, improve, and adapt, all with clarity. You will learn how to break more complex things down. It helps you to make real world progress toward your actual goals every 30 minutes. The process sets you up to realize your misconceptions earlier on than you normally would.

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