Pomodoro – The Final Chapter

Writing a blog post is often cathartic and sometimes it’s enlightening. This one is a little bit both; simply writing this post (the first real one in a while) makes me feel like I’m back on the horse AND I actually discovered why I was struggling with something that has eluded me for a while. Feel free to tell me how obvious my discovery is.

It’s been a few weeks since I started using Pomodoro, and I said I’d update you on how that went. I also said that life was a little crazy, so combining those two made my 2-week experiment turn into an 8-week experiment.

First, a quick recap of where we are, and then some final thoughts on this topic.

Like I noted in the first post on this topic, I’m struggling to find a good way to Get Stuff Done. I thought The Pomodoro Technique might help in that struggle. So I decided I’d give it a couple of weeks to see if it would stick. About one week into those couple of weeks, I gave an update. It wasn’t going all that well then. I gave a pretty full update on what I thought some of the plusses and minuses were.

Now, about 8 weeks into the project, I find myself mostly ignoring everything Pomodoro.

  • The Pomodoro software: I’ve uninstalled this software both on my Mac and my Droid. It’s really just not that useful to me. I had thoughts about taking the source code (they make it available) and fixing all the stuff I don’t like. My punch list got pretty long and my time to tinker with stuff got pretty short and priority wise this is just not one of those Quadrant I kind of things (see Covey’s First Things First if you don’t know what that means).
  • The Pomodoro method: As long as we’re talking about Covey’s work, I’ve already noted that the Pomodoro method doesn’t seem to be any good for my Quadrant I things. So when exactly might it be useful? It seems that even the small amount of uninterrupted time required for Pomodoro, 25 minutes, is typically unachievable during my normal daily activities unless there is some strange scheduling anomaly that allows my calendar to have 1 hour of free time. Then I need 25 minute chunks of work – or some collection of things that turn into 25 minute chunks of work. I’m not good enough at accurately predicting HOW LONG something is going to take in units of DAYS, so how the *#$% am I supposed to be able to predict work in units an order of magnitude smaller!?

*BAZINGA!* (Don’t know that reference? Learn from the Master – though he may be a post-doc. See here for more.)

I think I just hit on one of the problems I have with Pomodoro (and pretty much every other time management tool) – I’m trying to force fit my work to what the tool wants, rather than using the tool to help me solve my problems.

Why should I even care what it wants – who’s driving the bus here anyways? I should be using this (or any) tool as a tool. I don’t turn screws into nails so I can hit them with a hammer because all I have is a hammer, I go find a way to use the right tool to put the screws in. If the tool doesn’t work for the problem, don’t use it. On the other hand, given that I do have some work that needs to be done and I have these 25-minute chunks, maybe I can use the Pomodoro technique to get 25-minutes worth of work done. *BAZINGA!* Hey, maybe using First Things First to classify which jobs I should do with those 25 minutes is also worth while. *BAZINGA!*

Bottom line: the Pomodoro technique may actually be useful for me, just not the way I had originally thought. The software tool, on the other hand, is still just too clumsy to be anything other than a fancy timer. Over there in Quadrant IV lay the tasks to update it…

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