I devised a few ways to keep track of my time and to maintain focus
during the “new-normal” (as they say) WFH days . Thought maybe it might
be useful to someone else too.
1. Get into the zone often
2. To find an answer to “Where did my day go?” at the end of the day
3. Streamline and manage interruptions
1. The well-known Pomodoro technique
2. Google Calendar
3. Task Breakdowns
From the work at hand, carve out a chunk that could be finished in 15 minutes, nothing more.
Block the next 15 minutes in your calendar. This is what I call a session.
The aim of the session is to complete the planned subset of work
Spend the next fifteen minutes executing this plan. Do everything you can to reduce distractions. For instance in my specific case, I will not respond to any chat messages/emails right away. I let this accumulate, but I will have an eye on how often the notifications come in.
At the end of 15 minutes, one of two things have happened. Either we were able to achieve what we set out to do in the aim, or maybe not. Either way, that factors only into the decision as to what we do for the next session.
If we were able to complete what we set out to do, great planning! See why
this was possible, and do more of this when planning subsequent
If not, then what I usually do is to reduce scope and see what can be done
in the next session so that I can complete what could not be completed
earlier. I also make sure that the session is named such that I can try
how many failed (so to speak) sessions I had in a particular day
Attending to chat messages and emails are a planned session in itself.
Since I had been keeping watch on their number (as mentioned before), I can plan sessions for emails and chats with some certainty. But needless to
say, it’s not perfect.
I plan for a 15 break session after every 45 minutes, or after an hour of continuous work. However, if I need a break sooner, I will take it — it’s just that it needs to be tracked.
On a good day, a calendar should look something like this
But why the colors you might be thinking?
I use that to see how much of my day was spent actively coding /
collaborating, in meetings, and how often I take my breaks. This allows
me to know a “typical day” for myself.
This is very valuable information for me especially if I have to estimate
how long something would take for me, and also is a good tool that I can
use to say no more often.
The method isn’t perfect.
It’s more or less agile principles of iterative improvement applied on
day-to-day working on a personal level. It’s nothing new, it’s very
My biggest takeaway from the method is to answer the “where did my day go?” question I often had.
This method is something that am actively doing everyday, hoping to perfect it over time. But maybe you are ahead of the curve. Maybe you have tried this and have suggestions.
I’m more than happy to hear them in the comments!
Previously published at https://vineeth.ink/keeping-focus-with-pomodoro-and-google-calendar-ee230e3a2b77
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