Categories: personal productivity
The Pomodoro technique is not something unique to agile, but it's one of those productivity techniques that agilist know about and use. I'd group it in the personal productivity category along with other technuques like personal kanban. It actually works well with personal kanban.
I was recently using this for an important tasks I had to get done. I had a report to write and not a lot of time to do it. So I took advantage of pomodoro to focus on the task at hand.
If you're not familiar with that the idea is that you sit down for 25 minutes completely focused. You don't let distractions like email or instant messaging keep you from doing that work. At the end of 25 minutes you take a five-minute break. This is your chance to check email or look at your Twitter feed or whatever you want to do. You continue this for usually three or four cycles and then you take a longer break. It's that simple.
I find the 25 minutes don't seem overwhelming in terms of how long I'm working on something and the breaks come pretty quick. But I also feel that this approach helps me to stay focused longer, rather than trying to work on something for an hour or more at a time without taking a break. I find for 25 minutes I'm able to keep distractions away. When I'm not using the technique and working for longer periods of time, I find distractions creep in on me.
There are apps you can find for you smartphone, or simple get a basic kitchen timer. The technique is named because of the tomato shaped kitchen timer the originator of the technique used...pomodoro being the Italian word for tomato.