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22 Pomodoros and the Power of Intrinsic Motivation

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richRich

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When I woke up this morning, I thought "shit, how you gonna manage that, you have two days left".

So, I finished the task at hand by giving throwing 22 pomodoros at it. Not that I haven't worked long hours before, but this time it was probably the best mix of flow and work done.

[GALLERY=media, 173]22 Pomidora by richRich posted Feb 3, 2019 at 12:58 AM[/GALLERY]

Obviously, I don't think this is something that is suitable as an everyday habit longterm, even if you do what really drives you. It was really interesting for me, how different factors accumulate so that you take action without a second thought, having your only one goal in mind, flowing one working set after the other.

In retrospect, I believe that the driving factors were these:

Clear Goal:
The whole thesis had to be revised one more time today. After the first pomodoro set, I calculated how many more sets I would need to do. I knew that I had to double up the speed to reach my goal. And so I did. I broke it down every other set and knew where I am at. I knew exactly what I need to do at any point in time.

Purpose:
I haven't really consciously thought about that, but it is something that explains it now to me, why I woke up so focused, laser-like and determined. It's because I am working on that thing for four months now; it's because it finishes up something that is on my mind for three years now; it's because I have something to say there.

Deadline:
"shit, two days" when you know you have to finish it, you will engage your brain in a way that does what it takes (unless your brain engages you to find an excuse not to do that, which is often the case when the deadline does not have severe consequences and purpose crash).


I am curious, what your pomodoro or extremely-focused-hour high score is? And why did you do that?
Especially when you were working "smart". What I have done here, is quite repetitive work without much surprises.

But I would still love to capture this state of everlasting focus and to have it at hand or to generate so the next time it will be the best mix of flow and value created.
 

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rogue synthetic

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I wrote my doctoral thesis in six weeks doing this method. I revised the whole thing for submission in about 2 weeks doing this again. It works.

Just make sure you've got something else to jump to immediately once this project is off your plate. Otherwise you'll find yourself with a ton of energy and focus and nowhere to focus it, which isn't fun.
 

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Interesting, I've never looked at the stats. I just use it as a tool.

Sometimes if I'm having difficulty starting a task I'll use a 'just do 2 minutes' or 'just write one sentence' method to get started. Then once I've conned my brain into accepting the task at hand I'll start a Pomodoro. It's great for boring/repetitive tasks (that you can't delegate for some reason).

However the problem I find with this stop/start method is the loss of focus on demanding tasks.

For tasks such as these I need to set a Pomodoro to 45 mins duration's to gain any benefit. Even then if I am deep in 'the zone', once the Pomodoro goes off I'll suspend it and just work through until the task is complete or I need to take a break. Then I'll restart the 45 min sessions.

We all know that the problem with distractions is that it derails your mental progress, and studies have proven that it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain that mental clarity you had before an interruption.

I think a Pomodoro break is less of a distraction than a phone call, text message, or interruption from a work colleague as it is planned for. But, only if you are still thinking about the task while taking this scheduled break. Then when you return from taking a short walk or making a cup of coffee you can still be on point.

However, if you use the break time for surfing the Web, checking email etc. then that focus is gone and it takes time to reestablish it.

What are your thoughts on this regarding deep work as opposed to shallow tasks?
 

rogue synthetic

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What are your thoughts on this regarding deep work as opposed to shallow tasks?
I've found it most valuable for going deep. As you say though the breaks have to be done right or you'll break out of the trance. I just do something like some easy stretching, walking around, make a cup of coffee, or just stare out the window and breathe. Heading to the browser or phone is a big no-no.

I haven't really bothered with it for shallow task-grinding, but it might be a good fit if you're the sort of personality that lets the small stuff get out of hand. (I know I can get lost doing certain kinds of repetitive low-value work if I'm not careful.) Give yourself a block or two to complete whatever well-defined tasks are on your plate, and then move on.
 

lowtek

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The most I've cranked out in one day is 18. This is for a combination of coding and content creation.

I'm using it a little less (Pomodoro technique) these days, but need to get back into it. I picked up a near full time gig that consumes a lot of my mental energy (software engineering), so I'm trying to regain some structure.
 
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richRich

richRich

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Just make sure you've got something else to jump to immediately once this project is off your plate. Otherwise you'll find yourself with a ton of energy and focus and nowhere to focus it, which isn't fun.
Hello pomodoro Devourer ;) Just opened the forum to share today's experiences and then you write this. After 16 pomodoros today I was already done all with my must-dos, and thought: Why not ride the momentum and stack a few pomodoros on top starting right away to work off my new entrepreneurship tasks? (like deciding about my future and research on a new business opportunity)

Your post totally confirms that mentality. The whole semester I thought, I would do this and that thing after I finish the thesis, but having this state I want just to continue as long as it's available.

So, where did you direct your pomenergy to after the PhD?

It's great for boring/repetitive tasks (that you can't delegate for some reason).
It's totally great for that! How many times, did I start a task with:
"F*ck it, it's just twenny minutes.. afterwards I'll get sucked into it anyway"

There is also a guy always starting his regular pomodoro sets with a 4 times 5 minutes pomodoros, I think to make some small wins, which I find interesting as well. But not tried it so far.

For tasks such as these I need to set a Pomodoro to 45 mins duration's to gain any benefit. Even then if I am deep in 'the zone', once the Pomodoro goes off I'll suspend it and just work through until the task is complete or I need to take a break. Then I'll restart the 45 min sessions.
I hated the forced brakes too when I just learned about the pomodoro technique which is enforced by most pomodoro software. I couldn't get on track with pomodors that way for a long time and didn't quite know what is wrong. Often with more creative tasks, my pomodoros mutated then to 52/15 or 90/30. Someday I tried out the amazing KanbanFlow clock and understood what it was all about.
The KanbanFlow clock will just continue to run and will sound again in 25 minutes. That simple. So, you don't have to distract yourself to click anything, the time continues to run and you have two possibilities:

  1. Finish the current block. It is one thing that is rarely mentioned, but what is one of my most important learning about working with the clock: When the clock rings, don't jump up right away. Notice, but finish whatever you are doing in full awareness. Finish writing or reading the paragraph or the source code block, do anything so that you can consider your work done for now. Decide now what you will do next.
  2. If you are super duper hot, stay with the flow, no distraction!

studies have proven that it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain that mental clarity you had before an interruption.
I also heard about that in Make Time. I think this might be true, especially after having heavy distractions like talking to people all social media jumping. And probably more so for "regular people", whose focus level might not be comparable with a "Pomodorian".

My short breaks these days almost consistently consisted of playing football against the wall in my room. @roque synthetic describes the most powerful break activities.

What are your thoughts on this regarding deep work as opposed to shallow tasks?
Interestingly, this time I worked with PomoDone which has an autobreak after each pomodoro, which forced me to work always in "1. Finish the current block" mode. I had a super well-defined uncreative task and was cool with trying that again, using my learned extensions. I was in total control of my work, I was really deep in that thing and I knew almost exactly when I will be finished with the next chunk.

I think this can be very powerful given this criteria.

Next time I will try to break down a more creative task in super well-defined task, establish hardcore motivation and turn on the autobreak (Badass!)

gig that consumes a lot of my mental energy (software engineering), so I'm trying to regain some structure.
What exactly are you trying to do? Having read some books on clean code and TDD by developers, I noticed that they break down tasks in a very cunning way too. Maybe this will help you.

This is what happens, when you define bigger tasks for the day but don't define subtasks:

detail-view-dev-day-process.png
(Code Sprint)

You automatically start to diverge, I think, and get torn apart, and prolong your pomodoros to keep up with the rain of new raining tasks that pop up like mushrooms.
Also I tend to prolong when I get stuck because "I have to solve it now". Although, a 3-5 minutes break with movement, fresh air and/or coffee might solve a creative block!
Lastly, these semi structured pomodoro sessions felt way more draining than the ones super disciplined that I had in the last days
 

NMdad

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However the problem I find with this stop/start method is the loss of focus on demanding tasks.
Agree. Stop/start doesn't always work for coding or writing tasks that take a while to dig into. My problem when doing that focused work for more than, say, 60-90 minutes requires a good break--otherwise, I'm liable to time-waste afterwards as a "break."
 

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