All of us, founders and flounderers look for ways to maximize our output. Then we focus on the quality. We discuss distractions that are coming at us with alarming speed and volume and try to make sense of work life balance. There is something innately good about all these discussions. If you think about it, it is but the evolutionary process at work. I often have discussions about how so many of us are buried in our smartphones. We talk about lovers in restaurants having a meal in silence while looking at thier respective phones. The calls (including cold ones from folks trying to sell you something), messages, meme’s, forwards, mails, more calls….you get the drift. But as civilization we have had only 15 years to deal with this rapidity and change. Give us some time and we will figure it out. How do you get work done and still have time to be with your daughter when she gives her first recital? Or ballet performance? Or with your wife when she is feeling low. Or happy. Or worried? How does this impact teams and their productivity?
I write about stuff I find and today I read this article by Chris Winfield on How to work 40 Hours in 16.7 (Hours). Sounded like a classic click bait for a ponzi scheme. But then I figured he was writing about Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique. The premise he sets reflects on 80% of the people I know, including myself. We are trying too hard to get things done and missing out on important stuff. Or feeling drained. We make a big deal out of people who claim they get by with 3 hours of sleep. May be it works for them. Not for most.
So what is it that Francesco proposes? To get to that, you need to understand Time.
Francesco refers to the work of Bergson and Minkowski who defines time as an interrelated outcome of two aspects: Becoming – “An abstract, dimensional aspect of time, which gives rise to the habit of measuring time…the concept of the duration of an event ; the idea of being late” and “The succession of Events” – the typical daily routines our lives follow – waking up, eating, study, lunch etc till we go to sleep, which, for example give Children an idea of abstract time which passes.
Of these two, becoming generates anxiety. “Two hours have gone by and I’m still not done; two days have gone by and I’m still not done.” With this background he set about defining the goals of the Pomodoro Technique.
The aim of the Pomodoro Technique is to provide a simple tool/process for improving productivity (your own and that of your team) which is able to do the following amongst others:
- Alleviate anxiety linked to becoming
- Enhance focus and concentration by cutting down on interruptions
- Bolster the determination to achieve your goals
- Refine the estimation process, both in qualitative and quantitative terms
- Strengthen your determination to keep on applying yourself in the face of complex situations
The Pomodoro Technique is founded on three basic assumptions:
- A different way of seeing time (no longer focused on the concept of becoming) alleviates anxiety and in doing so leads to enhanced personal effectiveness.
- Better use of the mind
- Employing easy-to-use, unobtrusive tools reduces the complexity
To implement the Pomodoro Technique, all you need is the following:
- A Pomodoro: a kitchen timer
- A To Do Today Sheet, filled in at the start of each day
- An Activity Inventory Sheet
- A Records Sheet: This is the set of raw data needed to produce pertinent reports
Back to Chris’s article on how he worked through various permutations to reach his optimum configuration of 40 pomodoros a week and a seven day work week, still putting 16.7 hours of work ( 25 mins X 40 pomodoros = 1000 mins and 200 mins of breaks).
Focused work, Deep work you can call it anything – there is no denying that you need to adopt some practice that works for you. The next critical component is to have a list. At Pitch.Link we have quiet mornings – so no calls, no interactions, no mails between 9 and 12noon. All discussions post lunch specially when your sugar level is high and you are feeling sluggish. Great time to walk around and get on a call.
I am tempted to give it a shot. Will let you know how that went. Links to Chris’s article and Francesco’s 2006 paper (the structure above is from quoted from the paper) are:
How to Work 40 Hours in 16.7 (The Simple Technique That Gave Me My Life Back) by Chris Winfield https://bit.ly/29h91k5
The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cririllo