When I work at home on personal computer projects, I have one of two problems:
- getting distracted from my main task by other computer things or other items that need doing around the house
- getting so absorbed in my task that I forget to look away from the computer causing me to get a headache and need to stop
Neither of these is an issue at work and I can usually get a couple hours of personal project stuff done on a given weekend day before it becomes a big problem. Which is all the time I usually have anyway. One weekend was different. I was technical proofreading a 300-400 page book (The Well Grounded Java Developer) and needed to get a lot done in a short time. I blocked out my weekend to have 15-20 hours to do it. Then all I needed was focus.
I’d read about Pomodoro and decided it to try it with this particular project. (which is evidence of problem #1 – I was experimenting with Pomodoro when I should be reading.)
First I installed the GNU pomodairo app. Including the download of Adobe AIR itself, this took less than ten minutes. I added my tasks and kicked it off.
How it went
The beginning two Pomodoros were the toughest.
- On the first one, I got water 2 minutes before the break. I needed to trust it and wait longer. The sound was a bit jarring. I only read 3 pages (and played with an example.) Not much momentum yet.
- On the second one, I worked a whole pomodoro but only read one page (and fiddled with examples). I did get in the zone although I could have stayed there longer. I took a break anyway to avoid burnout. I did successfully wait out the Pomodoro to check my e-mail (which I noticed because gmail automatically pulls mail and I needed to refer to one as part of my task). I learned the tool shows your pomodoro as interrupted if you don’t click the right button at the end of a Pomodoro.
- On the third one I was starting to feel the flow. That time I did get fully into what I was doing in 25 minutes and got two tiny chores done during the break.
- At this point, it started working. I got absorbed during every Pomodoro.
My stats weren’t correct. I lost two pomodoros on the second chapter I read. I think it was because I didn’t explicitly select the next task when I finished the first one. But the stats didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was able to get focus and momentum going. And I didn’t have a headache at the end of the day.