Friday, January 15, 2010

Pomodoro Technique

About one and a half years I made a huge mistake. A mistake which cost me lots of productivity. One and a half years ago I read about the Pomodoro Technique and was excited about its approach. I even printed out the free PDF. My mistake was to totally forget about it. So never read the PDF and did not learn about this great technique for too long.
Since I read a lot of books from The Pragmatic Bookshelf, I was surprised to see that they published a book -- The Pomodoro Technique Illustrated -- about this powerful approach. So, I got the book read it over the week-end and finished with the free PDF from Francesco Cirillo on the following Monday. Reading about the Pomodoro Technique was a great and enlightening experience. I come from an agile background and do agile software development since 2001. First XP and then added Scrum by 2004. In my professional life I do Scrum trainings and agile coaching. So, it was great to see the similarities between Scrum and the Pomodoro Technique. It made perfect sense to me from the get go.
Well, needless to say that I am a convert now. Being a consultant, I am often on the road at customer sites and only focusing on one thing. However, between projects or every couple of weeks I am working at the home office for a couple of days. During those days I have to work and catch up on many different things in a short time frame. In the past it was hard to get going and keep the overview. Too many urgent tasks, and at the end of the day the feeling that something important was forgotten. Pomodoro Technique to the rescue. Know I keep an Activity Inventory up to date and on my office days I go through that list and identify the most important ones, either by date or by priority. I get about 10 Pomodoros done in one day. At the end of the day I reassess what I was planning to be, were I actually am and how I could improve. With that in mind I go into the next day.
As I had mentioned, there are some stunning similarities between Scrum and the Pomodoro Technique, here is a list of how I compare them.

Scrum             Pomodore Technique
Product Backlog Activity Inventory List
Sprint Backlog To Do Today List
Sprint Length Pomodore Length
Review Assessment at the end of the day
Retrospective Assessment at the end of the day

I can only stress how effective the Pomodoro Technique has proven to be for me and I would recommend it to anyone who has to juggle several tasks in parallel. If your are an agilist then applying the Pomodore Technique should be rather easy.
Ring …. 25 minutes over – 5 minute break and then of to my next task.

6 comments:

Daniel Bastos Aragao said...

Swear I'll use it next project :)
Although isn't it, say, a tad too intense? I mean can you go on a year using Pomodoro without burn-outs?

Ralph Jocham said...

Well, I haven't used it for a year yet. However, it is about sustainability to avoid exactly that. Also, it reduced stress levels for me. One thing, I hadn't mentioned; after every set -- 4 pomodoros in a row -- you take a longer break of about 30 min.

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