Have you ever had those moments when you’ve got your task list, and you’ve got free time, … but somehow you’re finding every interruption available instead of finding the task list?
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If so, The Pomodoro Technique is something you should try.
Even with pristine GTD® lists, I find that adding a pomodoro timer gets me to focus and crank through the next actions. And now that my Pomodoro To-Do sheet is integrated with my GTD® lists, I do not need to create a separate piece of paper to track my pomodoro activities.
Let me explain how I do this.
Basics of The Pomodoro Technique
Pomodoro, which means tomato in Italian, has a few basic techniques:
- Put all the activities you need to complete on an Activity Inventory Sheet.
- For the day, select the tasks you need to complete and copy them to the To Do Sheet.
- Then, starting at the top, select one task.
- Set the Pomodoro timer to 25 minutes
- Work until the Pomodoro ends
- Mark the task with an x on the To Do Sheet.
- Take a short break (3-5 minutes).
- Repeat steps 3-7 and every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
It is also important for you to track interruptions on the To Do Sheet when doing Pomodoros.
- If there is an ‘internal interruption’ – i.e. a distraction that comes from you, record this with an apostrophe (‘)
- If there is an ‘external interruption’ – i.e. a distraction that comes from a source external to you, record this with a dash (-)
- If there is a new activity, record it under Unplanned, or Unplanned & Urgent.
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Activity Inventory Sheet in my Evernote GTD® System
Now that we’re reviewed the Pomodoro Technique, let’s take a look at how it shows up in my Evernote GTD system.
The first element is the Activity Inventory Sheet – a listing of all the activities with an estimate of how many pomodoros it will take. All I do here, is add a bar (|) after the next action description, and then add in an ‘o’ for each pomodoro I think I will need to complete the next action.
I group the pomodoros into batches of 4 pomodoros to make it easier to see how many pomodoros are needed.
If I happen to have an activity that is less than a complete pomodoro, I use a ‘c’.
To Do Sheet in my Evernote GTD® System
When preparing the To Do Sheet for the day, I simply add the &0-Today tag to the next actions that will be part of the To Do Sheet.Hence, by selecting the &0-Today tag displays all the relevant next actions, as well as the number of pomodoros planned for the day.
Both internal and external interruptions are tracked in the body of the next action.
Alternatively – particularly when I am in a streak of days when I am actively trying to track my pomodoros – I create a new note to track interruptions, and record both external and internal interruptions there.
When a pomodoro is completed, I replace the ‘o’ with an ‘x’.
If additional pomodoros are added to the initial estimate, I use an ‘a’ instead of an ‘o’
And when there is a new activity, it gets added to the !nbox. If it’s an urgent activity it also get a tag of &0-Today
Reviewing Pomodoro Activity
When reviewing pomodoro activity, there are two features of Evernote that are particularly handy.
- Updated Date, which allows you to see which next actions where updated that day
- Note History, which allows you to see the initial pomodoro estimates for each next action
Have you tried to use pomodoros with your next actions lists? How do you track your pomodoros?