Pomodoro progress, halftime report

In this post I promised an update in one week – it’s been a little over a week, but here’s the promised progress report.

The Pomodoro Method works OK for some things that I do:

  • Non-meeting time: When I have time to get some work done – there’s no meetings scheduled or I’m not being interrupted by other people in the building – then the time-boxing/pacing of the Pomodoro Method works pretty well for me.
  • Items that take more than one iteration: Combined with some free time to get that stuff done, planning that it will take some number of iterations both allows me to pace the work AND get a quick break that doesn’t feel like I’ll forget where I was.

Pomodoro doesn’t help me when all hell breaks loose OR when other people show up in the office, like:

  • The day starts and so do the meetings. Go to a meeting and nothing gets done (other than the meeting, of course).
  • Interruptions – things come up and they have to be dealt with.
  • Things that don’t take a full Pomodoro to complete.

When I think about it a little bit, part of my frustration with my time management is that I expect that I have more free time to get work done than I truly have – hence, I feel like I’m not getting enough done, when I’m actually probably getting as much done as I could given the other items in my calendar.

As for this Pomodoro tool on the Mac, I find myself largely disappointed. The tool is timer only, at least as far as I can tell. The time announcements and Growl interactions are great. That I can’t keep my planned day entered into the tool and choose among the items, rather I have to type in the current iteration’s name (or keep the last one) feels clumsy. One potential positive is that the author distributed the source code – I can add the features I want at any time.

I also checked out some smartphone apps – I have a Droid, but there’s iPhone apps too. The Android app I found is annoyingly in your face – there’s a tomato in the notification bar ALL THE TIME, the interface is clunky, …. I browsed some of the iPhone apps and found that none of them were perfect either, but they’re much closer to what I’d like. None of these obviously support cross-platform (smartphone <-> desktop) sharing of information, so that feels like an opportunity for improvement.

I’ve decided that it’s good enough to keep trying for another week. Things can be different in week 2, and as always, YMMV.

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