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Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment. Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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Discussion Forum > Combining the pomodoro technique and AF

I was wondering if anyone had tried combining the pomodoro technique as described in the PDF here (not just the 25-5 technique but including determining pomodoros per task, maybe some kind of daily list etc) and AF. I really like the way AF seems to enable me to work on the right things but I also like the structure of the pomodoro technique. Anyway just curious if anyone has tried any kind of pairing of these before I go about trying to find one on my own.
April 25, 2009 at 17:04 | Unregistered CommenterChrisK
I discovered the pomodoro technique through Mark Forsters tweet and found it really interesting. I had been doing something quite similar in that I would time my predetermine tasks with 24 minute countdown timers. Then I'd apply the AF rule of working on something as long as I feel like it. The trick is, for those resistant tasks, I'd focus for a minimal of 24 minutes, which isn't too long but still significant. I picked 24 minutes because it fits nicely with the pareto principle (2x24=48 minutes with a 12 minute break every hour). It works magically for me. I tried 15 and 30 minutes but they were either too long or too short.

The nice thing is in most case the momentum you've built up in the 24 minutes implores you to keep going, even on the tasks you're keen to avoid.
April 25, 2009 at 17:47 | Unregistered CommenterPeter K
Some of my tasks are pomodores of 25'. I like the 25' as 30' is maybe too much for me. I see pomodores as a way to balance my AF list when bigger tasks, like 8x25' the next two days, needs to be done .
April 25, 2009 at 20:01 | Unregistered CommenterDamien
I do 24 minute blocks also, although not for Pareto, or Pomodor. I do it because I get some bizarre satisfaction knowing it is that it is 1/60th of a day.
April 26, 2009 at 1:31 | Unregistered CommenterStark
I have used timers for years. The more resistance I have the fewer the minutes I shoot for.

I also try not to get too specific about what I need to do, if I have a lot of resistance. If I want to get some cleaning done in the living room, I don't write down a next task, I just go at it however I want for 20 minutes.

If I have something I absolutely think I am going to loath doing, I go at it for five minutes.

I can always go longer, but I never set a pre-determined amount of time I *must* spend doing the activity.

A timer is always a good idea for me, how long I set it for is what matters.
April 26, 2009 at 1:37 | Unregistered CommenterNorman U.
I agree that timers are an excellent tool for breaking down high resistance tasks but and if we are in the position of "having" to do items because of external deadlines etc then they are an invaluable aid. However they go against the rule to action a task "for as long as you feel". For me that rule is one of the most freeing aspects of AF in that it removes even those last few vestiges of resistance.
April 26, 2009 at 7:52 | Unregistered CommenterChristine B
I agree with Christine - AF is best not used with any timing techniques because they tend to remove one of the most characteristic aspects of AF. However if you are faced with a really tough nut to crack and a looming deadline, then by all means use the best tool for the job.

Having said the above, I am interested in seeing how the Pomodoro technique works out, so I might give it a shot myself one of these days. I am particularly intrigued by the rule "if it begins, it must ring".
April 26, 2009 at 10:25 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I just scheduled my day using Peter's approach. But I will NOT be scheduling specific tasks; rather work on the AF list itself. I'm going to try this approach with my school schedule. I think long periods of schooling with no breaks sends me into doing a whole lot of nothing afterward. When it comes to AF, I feel very comfortable working for 48 minutes (I LIKE doing AF) and then taking a 12 minute break, whereas I will do most school subjects for 24 minutes as opposed to the 30 I was doing.

If stopping work on my AF list at 48 minutes leaves me wanting more, so much the better. I have seen how powerful this quitting on time principle is in maintaining motivation. Our small group leaders at church wanted to find a time to meet monthly that was convenient and motivating. We decided to meet for just 20 minutes between church services once a month. The result has been AMAZING. Attendance is excellent and we always leave the meeting reluctantly because what we're discussing is still interesting! Limiting the time you have to work your AF list can have a similar effect imo even if you work at it in multiple time blocks as I plan to do.
April 27, 2009 at 0:35 | Unregistered CommenterMel
That's something we used to do with Scouts, end their activities when they were having fun so they would look forward to it next time. I've heard of some writers (Hemingway?) who would quit in mid-sentence so as to pick up the thread cleanly when they resumed writing.
April 27, 2009 at 4:56 | Unregistered Commenterclay

It has been referred to as parking on a downhill slope:

April 27, 2009 at 9:01 | Unregistered CommenterNorman U.
You'll find plenty about this and similar techniques in my first book "Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play".
April 27, 2009 at 9:13 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Just finally got around to looking at the Pomodoro Technique.

Time considered as a helix of semi-precious tomatoes.

Simply brilliant.
May 26, 2009 at 11:17 | Unregistered CommenterWill
Mark also refers to this in "Do It Tomorrow and other Secrets of Time Management" (aka DIT!) Chapter 13 (Keeping Going.....)
May 27, 2009 at 12:17 | Unregistered CommenterNick
For those using iPhone or iPod Touch, I just noticed three Pomodoro apps in the app store! 2 are free; I haven't had a chance to give any of them a good test yet, so don't know how fun / effective /usable any of them are.
July 7, 2009 at 15:59 | Unregistered CommenterBev
I have been using the Pomodoro technique for a few months. It makes it easy to see that if I have 2 hours I have 4 blocks, 4.5 hours is 8 blocks etc. Sometimes I do 30mins on 30mins off work when I have a long day (and an evening alone). It also means if I am feel hassled its easy to see that I have so many time blocks and so can see its worth doing things even for that short time.

I have a list of blocks I do each day - af/ticker, plan food/sort fridge, water garden etc. Most of the jobs I try and do a whole block if I can or at least one task. I find it very useful for the AF/ticker list and cleaning as I have a set amount of time, rather than it possibly dragging out. Plus I think it is useful to put limits on thing as that stops it feeling too big and the procrastination monkey appearing. I find if I don't use time blocks the whole day feels too overwhelming and I get little done.
July 7, 2009 at 17:32 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

The pomodoro technique is just simply BRILLIANT!!!

This is my first day using it and I got SO much more (important procrastinated stuff) done than the days before...

This seems to be the ultimate procrastination buster. If you're a procratisanator definately check it out!

July 9, 2009 at 0:20 | Unregistered CommenterCruisader
Pomodoro has been good to me too.

It gives a sense of 'closure' as there are only so many that can be done in a period of time.

It also helps with pacing as it requires taking small breaks and occasional longer breaks. If you work without breaks and get too tired, you can still do tasks for 'as long as you like' but that won't be long! :-)

I split bigger tasks into a number of pomodoro, and glob smaller related tasks into a single pomodoro, so for me it doesn't conflict with AF rules.
July 11, 2009 at 18:03 | Unregistered Commentersmileypete
I have to say the Pomodoro Technique looks very intriguing... I shall be giving it a bash next week!
July 11, 2009 at 22:10 | Unregistered CommenterJason
I've just seen a use for the spam we are seeing on our otherwise very good forum; when the little blighters upload their awfulness a good thing happens...they make an older topic rise to the top! I'd forgotten about Pomodoro! Perhaps ultimately Russian Brides dishing out Viagra will improve my productivity after all. Who knew?! :-)
August 20, 2010 at 8:09 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Gooch
Simon - LOL
August 20, 2010 at 19:16 | Unregistered CommenterSeraphim
What's even more fun is the site doesn't interpret standard HTML quite right, so the spam links are broken.

I use FlyLady's 15 minutes, which is similar to Pomodoro. Small enough chunk that you don't feel overwhelmed or can't squeeze it in. Large enough that you get rolling and you get enough done during it that you don't feel guilty stopping. It's also small enough that it forces you to break things down into reasonable chunks. Three 15s in a row, then break for 15. Avoid doing the same thing twice in a row, otherwise you end back at all or nothing.
August 30, 2010 at 14:12 | Unregistered CommenterCricket
I've been experimenting with this too, especially when I have a large number of large tasks that all need to show some progress.

I use a timer and allow myself to work only for 18 minutes, or 36 minutes if I feel I need a little more time. For some reason I find 18 minutes and 36 minutes work pretty well for me. When the timer beeps, I stop, mid-sentence if needed, save the file, minimize the window, set aside the paperwork, and move on to the next DWM task that stands out. Set the timer, work on that task, stop mid-sentence at the beep, and move on. This really worked great last week -- I cranked out a lot of work.

The only problem happens if you're in a thunderstorm and your microwave-wireless-broadband internet connection freaks out and makes all your web applications freeze up. Then the idea of stopping mid-sentence doesn't work so well. :-)
August 30, 2010 at 21:18 | Unregistered CommenterSeraphim
Another benefit is it forces you to save your document at the end of each unit (even mid-sentence) rather than go all day without saving.
August 31, 2010 at 14:23 | Unregistered CommenterCricket
I was just wondering how to fit AF with this timing and it was at the top of the forum today. I don't see any inherent conflict here. No reason you can't set a timer and get to work on your autofocus list. Anyhow, I'm experimenting with it and like the results so far.
September 10, 2010 at 17:58 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
The great and beautiful thing about the Pomodoro Technique is that it can be used with any system. And the beautiful thing with AF is that it is so basic in design that it will accommodate any technique!

It would seem that perfection is attained not when no more can be added, but when no more can be removed. 〜 Antoine de Saint Exupéry
September 13, 2010 at 11:49 | Unregistered CommenterErik
Don't know if this thread is still being read, but if anyone is interested, I wrote a small Windows application that combines the AutoFocus and Pomodoro techniques:

Hope it is of use to anyone. All comments appreciated.
July 5, 2012 at 16:53 | Unregistered CommenterDominique
When I need a Pomodoro kick to my list processing, I just use a kitchen timer and/or a timer app on my android mobile. Currently using Pomodroido .
July 9, 2012 at 6:10 | Unregistered Commentersabre23t
There are also some good Windows 8 apps for Pomodoro technique. I'm currently using Tomato Time:
December 17, 2012 at 16:38 | Unregistered CommenterAndy
Here you have a FREE amazing Pomodoro Technique application for Android:

It allows you to synchronize with your Google Calendar tasks so you can do Pomodoro on them.

Hope you enjoy it as i do!
January 22, 2013 at 8:31 | Unregistered CommenterAMQO
Sorry, HTML Hyperlink doesn't seem to have been created for the previous comment.

The name of the application is Pomo-DoMore, you can find it in Google Play for all countries, of course available in english.

[I've edited the link so it now works. You have to remove the "s" at the end of "https:" - MF]
January 22, 2013 at 8:34 | Unregistered CommenterAMQO
I've been using the Pomodoro technique for the past 6+ months with great enthusiasm. One drawback I still have in my set up is that a I'm encountering a large amount of unfinished tasks, they're started but never got to completion.

I'm going to use Auto Focus for the next 4 weeks together with the Pomodoro technique. I'll just dot the [ ] boxes for 25 minutes on my AF list for big tasks, and if I feel the tasks on this Auto Focus sheet are all smaller I just run the 25 minute timer and progress these.

Every 25 minutes I'll take my 5 minute mandatory break (also use it for unconscious evaluation, not looking at the screen, and maybe already picking what task(s) I'll do in my next Pomodoro)

I think the Auto Focus will help me greatly to at least ensure new Tasks are brought to completion and my pile of 'unfinished work' should not grow any further. Then, if I have a surplus of time somewhere my 'unfinished tasks' will slowly diminish as well.

My recurring items on the AF sheet are simple for now;

Todo items due today
E-mail handling
If in office; case handling.

Should I post in a while how my experiment of combining Auto Focus with Pomodoro went?
February 2, 2013 at 13:01 | Unregistered CommenterJamesR404
Yes James - that would be very interesting. I'm working on a method for handling my oldest tasks, and will report on that soon.
February 2, 2013 at 17:11 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret1
Hi everyone! If any of you is using Windows 8, take a look at my pomodoro app: Pomodokei . I intend to make it the best one on the platform, so if you like it, let me know!
July 19, 2013 at 13:03 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Feng
Hi. Here's the gamified version of pomodoro technique, combined with jigsaw puzzle:
October 12, 2016 at 16:27 | Unregistered CommenterBoris Gvozdev