Like most people, I have days where I find it hard to concentrate and be productive. A couple years ago someone introduced me to Pomodoro Technique and Vitamin-R as a way to combat distraction.
The gist of Pomodoro is that you alterate 25 minutes of focused work with 5 minute breaks. One 25/5 cycle is called a Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros you take a longer 15 minute break.
The idea of setting a timer and focusing on one thing while it ticks isn’t new. I’ve seen this idea all over the internet. The nice thing about Pomodoro is that one cycle is 30 minutes. This fits nicely around meetings and other scheduled commitments.
I used a number of different methods for timing Pomodoros. Kitchen timers and the time on my phone don’t work at the office because they make noises that distract others. I also tried several ‘egg-timer’ applications on both mac and pc. They worked but it was annoying to have to set the timer for 25 minutes, then 5 minutes, than 15 minutes over and over.
Two or three years ago someone showed me Vitamin-R. At the basic level its a timer app that has built in support for breaks. It has UI to set a goal for each Pomodoro and you can drag goals in from apps like Omnifocus and Things.
I only use a small set of the features in Vitamin-R. In addition to the timer and goal setting I also use its UI for eliminating distractions. This allows me to close or hide applications in bulk so that only relevant applications are running while I work. I also use the background noise generator when I’m having a very hard time concentrating. Having the backgroun noise on in addition to the music I normally listen to downs out even the loudest of my co-workers and helps me stay on task.
After several years I still don’t Pomodoro every day but when I’m distractable or tired it really helps me focus on what I need to get done. I recommend that everyone try it at least a few times to see if it will work for them.