Tomighty is an excellent desktop timer tailor made for when you use the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to boost your productivity when performing mind-consuming tasks. It helps you keep yourself focused while reducing mental exhaustion
Tomighty has as default 25 minutes for the Pomodoro work-session, 5 minutes for the short break and 15 minutes for the long break. You can change this if you want but it works really well.
Just start the clock for a Pomodoro, focus on your work and 25 minutes later the timer goes off. Select a short or long break, I suggest you leave the computer during the break. Once the break is over the timer goes off again and it’s time for another Pomodoro.
I was reminded of The Pomodoro Technique™ when I attended Øredev 2009. It’s an interesting concept described like this:
The Pomodoro Technique™ is a way to get the most out of time management. Turn time into a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do and chart continuous improvement in the way we do it.
Time management is a misnomer since time cannot be managed, it’s all about managing your attention. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, it refers to the timer you use to keep track of time and the only tool you need. The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique™ is as simple as these five steps:
1. Choose a task to be accomplished
2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
The Pomodoro Technique is great. Step three above is about working on one task and that task only – no distractions and no multitasking. Knowing that the timer will tell you when the time is out means you can focus completely on the task at hand. The Pomodoro Technique works great together with the 18 Minute Plan.
The timer sound gets a bit annoying hearing it that often. I’ll do some work on my timer to make it more quiet. An alternative, as long as you are by your computer, is Tomatoi.st which is a Pomodoro timer in your browser. Another option is focus booster which can be used online or as a desktop application.
To get a quick introduction to the Pomodoro Technique, get the Cheat Sheet in Pomodoro Resources. The Cheat Sheet is described as This one-page paper is a valuable tool for Pomodoro Technique™ beginners. It’s also the perfect way to show your friends and colleagues how the technique works. In the Pomodoro Resources are also Worksheets (To Do Today and Activity Inventory) and a 45 page PDF that explains the concept more in details.
Update December 27, 2009
I found ClockSmith Lite and use the chime every half hour as my timer. At the chime I take a five minute break, then work for 25 minutes until the next chime. The chime sounds much nicer than my kitchen timer.
Update March 27, 2010
Today I came across Tick Tock Timer which is a very nice online timer. It’s now bookmarked for future use.
You can’t manufacture time, you can’t reproduce time, you can’t slow time down or turn it around and make it run in the other direction. You can’t trade bad hours for good ones, either. About all the time management you can do is to cram as much productive work as possible into each day. What you can manage, however, is your attention.
The e-book includes a simple question that helps us indentify what our top priority should be:
If I could accomplish only one thing right now, what would that one thing be?
The e-book also describes the Eisenhower method for sorting our tasks by importance and urgency, it’s simple yet powerful.
This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.
I got a link from Colin Lewis on Twitter that took me to Ed Batista: Time Horizons. Don’t miss that at the end there is a 2-slide PowerPoint version of the post
It’s an interesting article that made me think about which time horizons I use and why. Ed writes that ‘The 10 time horizons (See image) flow continuously from this immediate moment to my very last breath’.
I don’t agree with that, there are three horizons that I see as ‘timeless’ in the sense that we don’t know when it happens and how they fit in among the other. They are ‘in this job’, ‘in this career’ and ‘before I retire’. We can plan for them but I think these three horizons are on a different scale.
Ed Batista gives us these questions that help us check if we are using the right time horizon.
When we assess our lives–our fulfillment, our effectiveness, what’s working, what’s not working–how far ahead do we look? How far ahead should we look? Is that time horizon a good fit for the issues under consideration? And what issues are most relevant to us in a given time horizon?
when looking ahead it’s helpful to realize that I’ve moved from one horizon into the next. It prompts me to ask: Am I in the right timeframe? Should I take a step back–or jump even further ahead? Should my approach change? Am I still asking the right questions? Are the same issues in play?
The time horizons that I use are:
• This week.
• One month.
• 12 months.
The article mentions time management but time can not be managed. We can manage our priotities and that was the article is about.
The 18 minute plan is simple yet powerful when it comes to keeping us on track.
STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.
STEP 1, continued. Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.
My planning is usually not done in time slots, more a list of things for that day. Using time slots will make it clearer what actually can be done in one day. What really hit home was the ‘when and where’ part of the article (read more in their post):
If you want to get something done, decide when and where you’re going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.
STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.
This is a smart trick, a regular reminder to check that you are on track and on time. It’s easier to manage hour by hour than to manage on day level.
STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
This is a great one too. I do review my days but not in a more formal way. Doing what’s in step three above will make the learning process much clearer.
The key and first on the list is to know what’s important. Then all we need to do is to focus on that. But since that often is easier said than done there are 19 other strategies to help us.
It is about changing habits, getting rid of time-wasters (like do not check email all the time) and getting rid of distractions. The tough part is changing habits but we benefit a lot when we get better at doing what really matters.
This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.