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.
The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg is an excellent book about coaching as a leader. The tagline on the book says Boost your effectiveness at work by inspiring and developing those around you which sums up coaching from the leaders perspective.
The books is described like this:
This book offers information on how to unlock the potential of people by applying the techniques of coaching. Coaching is the key to realising the potential of your employees, your organisation and yourself.
This book provides the techniques and tools of coaching that are vital for those who want to develop a team of people who will perform effectively and who will relish working with them.
The techniques and tools of coaching are integrated in the story about Alex and his career as manager. That makes it easier since you see them used in context.
The book lists these reasons why a manager shall use coaching:
• Create more time for yourself
• Achieve better results
• Build your interpersonal skills
If you want a great introduction to coaching as a leader, and a book you later can use as manual, I suggest that you buy The Tao of Coaching.
This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.
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.
The stickiest idea in presenting and public speaking is that the meaning of your message is communicated by:
* Your words 7%
* Your tone of voice 38%
* Your body language 55%.
These figures are based on a formula first proposed by Albert Mehrabian in 1967.
I think we have all heard these numbers in connections with presentations, that How (tone, body) is more important than What (words, content). But Albert Mehrabian makes a reservation:
Please note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like-dislike). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable
Max Atkinson’s Blog: Body language and non-verbal communication has a great cartoon strip and raises these questions:
1. How come it’s much easier to have a conversation with a blind person than with someone who’s completely deaf?
2. How come we can have perfectly good conversations in the dark?
3. How come telephones and radio have been such spectacular successes?
4. How come we have to work so hard to learn foreign languages?
I had taken the formula more or less for granted (heard it often) and I am pleased to see that I was wrong. Words do matter!
If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.
At times we get stuck and/or feel low on energy. This post gives you ideas about what you can do to get back on track. Pick something from that list and feel the change. Today I’ll opt for number five (Have a piece of chocolate) and number ten (Take a power nap).
Some of the items on the list are daily habits for me. I always do some of number 23 (Play to relax), number 24 (Eat smaller, more frequent meals), number 25 (Enjoy a cup of tea), number 45 (Take a walk outside) and number 50 (yoga).
Number 39 is great – Purge low-value tasks from your todo list. Focus on what’s important and don’t waste energy on what’s not.
Fortune has a very interesting article about What it takes to be great. The article is from October 30, 2006 but it popped up on Twitter today. The post title says “Secrets of greatness: Practice and hard work bring success” which sums it up nicely.
The good news is that your lack of a natural gift is irrelevant – talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great. It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.
They conclude that practice makes perfect but it has to be practice that is focused on improving performance – challenge your comfort zone in that area – and gives you feedback:
The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call “deliberate practice.” It’s activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.
The article then goes to the business side:
How do you practice business? Many elements of business, in fact, are directly practicable. Presenting, negotiating, delivering evaluations, deciphering financial statements – you can practice them all.
Still, they aren’t the essence of great managerial performance. That requires making judgments and decisions with imperfect information in an uncertain environment, interacting with people, seeking information – can you practice those things too?
The key according to the article is to change your mindset: Instead of merely trying to get it done, you aim to get better at it. It is about constant improvements, Kaizen, and seeking feedback and ways to measure your progress.
In summary, change your mindset – aim to get better at what you do – and then practice to make you great.
This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.