The Pomodoro Method hacks how you define your tasks
It’s hard to define tasks in the right way.
You’ll find this advice everywhere:
Only define goals and tasks you have control over.
Tasks that you don’t have control over are productivity killers.
For example: “get a positive answer to proposal X,” “get thousands of followers,” “finish project in time.”
These goals mess with your definition of done.
The world is moving around you, and it’s hard to achieve something and get a feeling of progress if it depends more on the rest of the world than on your actions.
That’s why I like the Pomodoro Method: When you start using it, it’ll force you to add a subtle layer of Pomodoro on top of each task.
The Pomodoro Method redefines how you measure success
I guess you are a Knowledge Worker, so your task list for today resemble something like that:
How many of these depend on something external?
What happens when the requirements for Project A change and you have to start over? Do you need to wait for another document before replying to Arthur? Or what if the complexity of the issue you were working on explodes and you need to make three more decisions before finishing your job?
On some days, I might end up with zero tasks completed. Even after seven, eight, or ten hours in front of a computer. This is exhausting.
When I apply the Pomodoro Method, I might have ZERO tasks completed at the end of the day, but I still have a note of the time I spent pushing things forward anyway:
That would be a fantastic day. These Xs mean that I completed fourteen sessions of 30 minutes of deep focus. That’s 7 hours of work. And these two C mean I slid out of focus only twice during the day.
I can tell how much progress I made with the Pomodoro Method, even if I couldn’t complete any task.
That’s where the Pomodoro Method is very useful. It adds a subtle layer where “a deep focus session” is a success in itself.
The one thing you have control over, your focus, becomes the real subject of most tasks. And with the Pomodoro “layer”, you have a metric of success that tells you if you’ve been focused and lets you ask “should I change something in my workflow?.”
The Pomodoro Method Makes you more mindful
Our attention is slippery. Sometimes I might be in a deep focus session, and all of a sudden I snap back in and I
realise I was actually reading random online articles for the last 10 minutes.
You know, the big tech giants know all there is to know about abouts and how to design Software that “hijack” your brain.
There is a very interesting book on this subject, called Hooked: How to build Habit-Forming Products. We’re in the Attention Economy nowadays.
The Pomodoro Method helps you become more mindful about your attention. It is similar to meditation: the first time you
slip out, it takes you a few minutes to realise. But you acknowledge it. In the case of meditation you make a mental note. In
the case of the Pomodoro Method, you write down a “C” on your list of tasks. And maybe this time you won’t succeed in focusing
for 25 minutes. But the next time it’ll get better, and better, and better.
You are learning to become more mindful with the Pomodoro Method. It’s a great feedback loop.
It’s all about rituals
We are beasts of habits, and this methods is riddled with rituals. Each rituals is a way to invoke the gods of concentation.
Do you want to know more? Check out my other bits of advice on the 🍅 Pomodoro Technique. Or get the TickingFocus application for macOS Now!