Ready, Set, Go!
I’m pretty excited! Last week was one of the most productive weeks I’ve had in a long time, and it felt really good to get things done. What’s more amazing is that I had some serious time crunches put on me by family matters. Time-boxing my work using the Pomodoro App has been really helpful, and I’m actually doing a 25 minute pomodoro right now to write this blog post. The application is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which I sadly have yet to fully utilize.
Even without the full system in place, using the app to set time limits on units of work really makes it easy to focus and realize how valuable time really is, and how much time is left until your next break. What was more difficult was picking the level of detail for the goals I used as my pomodoro topics. Putting something too discrete for a 25 minute chunk of time meant I ended up stuffing a bunch of other stuff in there that may or may not have been in line with my overall goals for the day. Putting something too vague meant doing multiple pomodoros with the same topic and it also made me lose focus a bit.
One of the more helpful things I used the application for was actually timing break activities like reading RSS feeds, checking email, or playing a video game or two. It’s super easy to sink hours into these kinds of activities without realizing it, but with the Pomodoro app, the loud alarm clock sound and the “Good Job!” sound byte brought me back to focus on more important tasks.
There are also 5 to 15 minute breaks scheduled between the longer work sessions, which I used to do things like get coffee or go to the restroom. Again, a coffee break can become a time sink, but I found myself wanting to check how much time was left on my break and not blow it. This put me back on task and helped me focus… and the coffee didn’t hurt either!
So what features make this app stand out? Couldn’t you use a stopwatch to do the same thing? Technically speaking, yes, a stopwatch or timer would do just as well for the timing part. However, the application collects statistics for you that are very helpful in determining how successful your pomodoro’s are.
For example, the application integrates with messaging programs like Skype and Twitter to set away status messages based on your topic. I got some laughs (and some company) when I did gaming sessions and my Skype status changed, but I was also left alone during some intense work sessions as well. That was very helpful.
The other cool features was the ability to see a log of my pomodoro use to see what I’ve been working on for the day, and for all time (global stats). I can use this to fill in time sheets and determine if my priorities are correct. That’s not something you can get with a timer unless you are using some other manual tracking system.
The application integrates with some GTD packages (Things and Omnifocus) to pull tasks, but it does not integrate with other task management applications like Outlook however. I ended up doing some manual linking between those systems by referencing the task topic. However, there is the ability to run apple scripts for all the events in the application (start, stop, pause, resume, interruptions, etc). I imagine that at some point when I find it necessary to look into Apple Script, I might actually work on writing some integration scripts for just such purposes. For now though, using the statistics was good enough.
Worth The Purchase?
I didn’t know this ahead of time because I didn’t fully look into the website before hitting up the App Store, but it is possible to download the Pomodoro source code for free (read: it is open source) and not pay a dime for this application. That being said, I’m using the application in a professional capacity and it’s clean and works well. I like supporting developers who write good software (and hope others do the same for me), so I have no problem saying I paid for this app. It also guarantees I’ll get updates through the App Store as they become available, instead of having to check for them on the website or yet another product update RSS feed.
Success! This application has helped me become more productive. According to my dock bar, I have 3:45 left to finish this post, and I’ll spend that time checking spelling, adding links, tags, etc. I recommend that you give it a shot. And with source code available free, there’s no reason not to try it out.