If you’ve met me, you’ll know I’m the kind of guy who desperately needs productivity software. The reason is simple. I really don’t work that much. I go snowboarding all day long, and when I get home, I need to make the most of what little time I have. I’ve tried a number of different productivity enhancing techniques, but most of them were too easy to cheat my way through. So here I am, doing a Pomodoro app review for this world famous technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
It’s actually the world’s most popular productivity trick. It’s also the world’s simplest. The Pomodoro technique relies on one simple tool, a basic kitchen timer. This technique was made famous by one Francesco Cirillo who used a tomato-shaped timer to get the most out his day at work. The word “Pomodoro” is Italian for tomato. Hence the name.
So, how can you use a simple kitchen timer to suddenly become more productive? The Pomodoro technique is built on the power of time pressure and deadlines. To become a pomodoro technician, you simply set a kitchen timer to 25 minutes. You assign those 25 minutes to some task you’re trying to accomplish, and then you allow the timer to run. Once those 25 minutes are over, you have to stop doing the task and take a 5 minute break.
You cannot do two blocks of the same task next to one another. After your 5 minute break, you have to start on a completely different task.
Is the Pomodoro Technique effective?
I think so, but you’d really need to try it out for yourself. I believe this particular technique makes creative thinking a lot easier because you don’t just pigeonhole yourself to one task all day long. You have to keep switching. The efficiency probably comes from all the background calculations your brain is doing between tasks. Once you switch back to the task you started with, your mind is fresh and able to solve all the problems associated with it.
The ticking clock is the most important component of this technique. When you’re working, you feel more like you’re taking a test. You don’t really choose to work faster. You just do because there’s some weird instinctual thing in you that just has to get stuff done before the clock runs out. Once again, I can’t explain it. You’d really have to try it out for yourself.
Alright, now to the Pomodoro App Review.
Kitchen timers are cool, but they are ancient technology. These days, we use apps to prod us into productivity, and I’ve got to say the Pomodoro Mac App works like a charm. It is a fully customizable tool for turning the Pomodoro Technique into your own program. It also keeps stats on the work you’ve done, giving you a sense of accomplishment while you go from one session to the next.
The one thing I like the most about this app is the automatic breaks between each session, and the loud buzzer indicating the beginning of the next one. I was doing the Pomodoro Technique before I got this app, but I didn’t have the self-control to only take a 5 minute break between sessions. I would go for 30 minutes to an hour between, often compromising my productivity.
Strangely enough, I feel like the buzzer is a kind of psychological conditioning. If you go back to work when it buzzes, you’ll feel the need to continue to do so the next time it buzzes (meaning your 5 minute break is over). I liken it to a recess bell for adults. You’d think we don’t need that sort of thing, but what’s worse; being conditioned to work more or being conditioned to spend all day doing nothing on Facebook? I’m happy to be Pavlov’s dog if it means I can get more out of life.
The “Get Things Done” method.
I haven’t delved into “Get things done” and/or Omnifocus methodologies, but suffice it to say, this particular app features an integration with those software platforms. So far as I am aware, you can feed items from your Omnifocus into the Pomodoro app, allowing you to… well… get them done.
You can also integrate this app with Twitter. I’m not sure why you would do that, but you can. I have decided against it because I really don’t want to broadcast every little task I’m doing throughout the day. My Twitter is linked to my Facebook which is linked to my LinkedIn. A few too many tweets about how productive I’m being (while you aren’t), and I’m sure I would kill what few close friendships I still have.
Use Pavlovian conditioning to get better at life!
We are all Pavlov’s dog in one way or another. I happily accept this fate, and I like that the Pomodoro Mac App (although perhaps unintentionally) conditions me to be a better worker. There is the constant ticking of the clock and the ringing of bells. It’s eerily reminiscent of elementary school, but damnit if it’s not effective. Once I hear the end of the five minute recess bell, I actually get back to work. Pretty crazy.
Over time, the social pressure and reinforced Pavlovian conditioning will make you get a lot more done in a day. The Pomodoro Mac App is ridiculously simplistic, but therein lies its strength. You don’t consciously pay attention to it. Pretty soon your day is over, and you’ve got piles of finished work in front of you. That’s worth more than the very cheap $4.99 price tag. This app is definitely worth it.