A day without tomatoes

Today I didn’t use the Pomodoro Technique. It wasn’t so much a planned thing, but just how the morning worked out. I wanted to get right to work on an outline for a longer project. I dove right in and didn’t start my pomodoro timer.

I had my other timer running, the one I use for tracking billable time1. So, there was a running counter in my menu bar. My first thought was to just look up at it, and take a break every half-hour or so. That really didn’t work out as planned.

I noticed several things:

  • It’s easy to ignore a timer that counts up.
  • Knowing that I was responsible for keeping time “in my head”—even if that just meant glancing up at the menu bar—was added drag on my thought process.
  • Having the computer keep track of something like this is its job. I should let it do things like this.
  • One I missed starting the timer, I was reluctant to use it later in the day. I think this is the downside of Pomodoro being like a game. Why play if I’m not going to get all my “credit.”
  • Physically, I didn’t feel good. I was sitting too much. I really underestimated the value of the short breaks. Mostly the discomfort was in my legs, a slight stiffness.
  • I might have to move the laptop to the bar-height table in the dining room for part of the day. It’s about right for a standing desk, but in a more distraction laden environment.

Overall, I was able to cross off the tasks I had planned, but doing so felt messy and unstructured. I spent more time that I wanted at the desk, finding it easy to cmd-tab over to Twitter or email. I hadn’t noticed the how the focus blocks really did help me focus on the current task. The idea the timer was “watching” me was enough to keep my mind from wandering.

Having just found my Pomodoro groove, then having a day without tomatoes was quite shocking.

  1. I’m experimenting with invoicing myself for the time I spend on non-assigned/spec work. It may not be something that lasts past January, but seemed worth trying.