Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pomodoro Technique Illustrated by Staffan Nötenberg

In addition to Francesco Cirillo's book on the subject, Staffan Nötenberg adds experience and supporting research in the Pomodoro Technique Illustrated. Here are my favorite ideas:
  • Procrastination, forgetfulness, and being overwhelmed in our lives can be replaced by energized work
  • Our brains have a lot of natural rhythms and tendencies. There's a reason why sports stars have quirky game-day habits. Let's capitalize on our brain's natural strengths!
  • Follow a ritual for winding up the Pomodoro... it frees your mind for more important things. Capitalize on building good habits!
  • Our brains are not good at task switching, because we have limited "working memory"
  • Our brains are very good at finding associations. Many memory techniques teach us how to build those associations.
  • There are two ways to understand time: sequential vs duration. Sequential is more intuitive for children, and is less anxiety-prone for us adults
  • To get into flow, it's helpful to have the right environment: clear goals, sufficient challenge/interest, alertness, immediate feedback, and the sense of control.
  • Analysis paralysis is a symptom of having too many choices. If we limit our task selection to the beginning of each pomodoro, we don't lose time constantly rehashing what to do next.
  • The difference between a to-do item on an Activity Inventory and what's on the Today list is commitment. Maybe other people assign items for our to-do list, but when we do Pomodoro, it's our choice to schedule things for Today, and it's our goal to get those items done...and our satisfaction to succeed. It's critical that the commitment is realistic!
  • Each Pomodoro day has the following stages: planning, tracking (something, each pomodoro), recording (consolidate to Records Sheet), processing (analyze the data), visualizing (retrospective).
  • The key to memory is rehearsal. If you want to remember something, review it now, a day later, a week later, a month later, and then again 3 months later. This will strengthen the neural pathways so the info is easy to reach. As part of Staffan's daily retrospective, he draws a mind map of what he learned during his primary task of the day.
  • There's something about commitment that adds fire to our work. Use this catalyst by planning the day with a Today list, and use a Now List at the beginning of each Pomodoro to keep focused.
  • The daily retrospective is important to keep us learning.
  • Interruptions occur. Negotiate to keep them from interrupting your flow. If it's really urgent, you'll have to void your pomodoro. If you do anything that is not on to your "Now List", the Pomodoro is void (unless it didn't interrupt your flow and it took less than 10 seconds).
  • External Interruption Negotiation--inform the other party you're in the middle of a pomodoro, and will be done in X minutes; ask if you can get back to them then; add it to your Today list or Activity Inventory
  • Tracking: Staffan records interruptions (' for internal, - for external), unplanned items (U), estimation error (boxes for initial estimate, circles for re-estimates, and triangles for 2nd re-estimates)

Breaks
  • At a minimum, each break begins with getting away from the active task--i.e., standing up from my desk!
  • Giving ourselves regular breaks brings multiple benefits: ability to reprioritizate tasks, tendency to view the larger context and discover new associations, and clear delineation between work and rest.
  • Flow is incompatible with a perspective of the big picture. So we need something to wake us up, regularly, to ensure we're still on the right track.
  • Much of the discipline in Pomodoro is about setting up artificial rewards... I get a 5-min break if I work for 25, I get an X on my sheet if I don't get distracted, etc.
  • Short breaks give our brains a pause from a bombardment of stimulus. Get away from machines and texts! Otherwise you're likely to develop "attention deficit trait"--i.e., you're stealing focus away from the next pomodoro.
  • Breaks are critical to get us out of flow-mind, and allow us to switch to overview mind--where we're capable of making changes to priority/schedule/plans. It may be hard to be disciplined to stop when the bell goes off, but if instead we realize this is a wake-up call, it's no longer something being imposed upon us... it's our choice to be able to reevaluate where we should be going

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..