My first attempts to make the Pomodoro Technique work for me were quite a struggle. But that taught me a lot! And eventually led to building great habits around coding, journaling, eating healthier and many-many more. Surprisingly, Pomodoro even muscled me up! These are the topics I am covering in my Pomodoro Series. You can check them out to steal my experience.
For now I am going to share my first experience following the Pomodoro Technique. And in the beginning it was not great. At all.
The main problem was to stop whatever I was doing. «Hey, I’m in the middle of something! How on Earth should I make a break if I am trying to focus?». It did not feel right to take a break while being in the middle of doing something. The break was the enemy. Having a break was perceived as a waste of time.
I felt like I was loosing the momentum.
25 minutes have passed but I did not feel any productivity. It seemed to me like I was following the rules but the end result was not that rewarding. More precisely, instead of feeling more productive and satisfied I felt more like annoyed.
What was I doing wrong?
So my implementation of Pomodoro Technique is buggy. Let’s debug it! And here is a breakpoint I started from:
My process of coding is too sensitive to pauses.
Well, hmmm, okay. But… why? Fast forward dozens of broken pomodoros and here is the answer.
I was focusing on a specific task but still managed to jump all around between micro tasks making the process chaotic. All those tiny things were indeed connected to the main goal but jumping all around them was tricky to notice.
Task switching, or set-shifting, is an executive function that involves the ability to unconsciously shift attention between one task and another.
The dangerous part is that it happens unconsciously.
I could start with one thing, then switch to another one (very related), then switch again and again while not finishing any of them. But after ten of those switches I ended up with a thing barely connected to the initial task.
This «feature» of mine was unnoticed for years. Sad! But true.
And it turned out to be a very valuable piece of self-observation. Now I will share what I came up with to deal with it.
Beware — it may sound silly! But in order to fix a problem with pomodoro breaks all I had to do was… interrupt my switches! Breaking the breaks with more breaks!
Let me unconfuse you.
Constantly asking myself what the hell I am doing. And actually give an answer.
This trick helped me to catch myself switching from one task to another, forced me to articulate current goals and kept me more focused.
Basically I was breaking a bad habit of task switching.
As a result, my process of coding became much more «pausable». I can take a break and have a much more clear understanding where I am in the process. This clarity leads to understanding not only what I am doing but what I’ve actually done. Also after a Pomodoro break I can restore the context and continue nailing it much more easily.