The Pomodoro technique is a popular time management method. I tried using for a few weeks at work. I am not planning on sticking with it, but I did learn some valuable lessons from the exercise.
The technique itself is simple. It prescribes using a timer to enforce work and rest intervals. Typically, for every 25 minute interval of work there is a corresponding 5 minutes of break time. After a few cycles, there is usually a longer break.
One of the benefits of time boxing work is that it promotes resting often. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health. It is known to correlate with back and joint pain, and eye strain. Anecdotally, many software engineers tell me of hours-long stretches at the keyboard. I don’t struggle with that. My natural thirst and bladder cycles naturally prompt me to leave my desk often.
In fact, the I found the constant interruption to be annoying. I have a very good capacity to concentrate on work, usually with the aid of noise-cancellation headphones. The time-base interruptions constantly broke my “flow”.
On the positive side, I found that the planning aspect of each iteration to be a really good way of breaking down work. It encourages to split the next piece of work into small chunks, that are inherently more approachable. It makes it easier to approach uninteresting tasks – which I procrastinate on often. Committing “only” to a small interval of work makes them more palatable.
I won’t continue using Pomodoro. However, I am now more aware of my procrastination. I continue to plan my work in small steps. When I start working on a task, I let the natural stopping points guide me on when to take breaks.