I love writing code and building awesome stuff, but there are times where fighting the urge to Reddit for 14 hours feels like this:
When this happens, I break out my secret weapon: *The Pomodoro Technique. *The basic premise behind this technique is alternating your time between spending several minutes on nothing but working towards a certain goal (let’s call it the hot period) or deliverable and a few minutes on anything that isn’t work (*the cold period). *
While you’re working, you should be doing *nothing else except the work *unless it’s so critical that it can’t wait. Yes, that includes emails, IMs, and phone calls. This is critical, as this (a) trains you to put a completely unfettered focus into something, and (b) makes getting through that tough period a lot faster.
Your cold period, on the other hand, can be spent however way you want as long as it’s only for a few minutes. The cold period should be much, much shorter than the hot period; otherwise, you’ll run the risk of falling off and potentially wasting a lot of time.
My hot period is 30 minutes and my cold period is 10. For getting through a slump, this setup makes it just tolerable enough to get through the hill and the break just short enough to prevent falling into the deep end.
The official technique recommends a desk-side timer (I’m assuming to train your mind into eventually entering hot/cold periods automatically…or something), but I’ve found that any ol’ timer works just fine. I use my iPhone.
This is tom-foolery. There’s no way that this works.
Except it does! And for three reasons:
- It gives you something to look forward to after a few minutes of work, even if it’s short,
- It helps break down large and seemingly-unending challenges into smaller, more digestible ones, which makes it easier to see what the goal actually is, and
- It makes you feel accomplished, which will make you feel more encouraged to continue doing work so you can keep feeling accomplished.
Still not sure?
Try it for a week. Let me know how it goes!