Developers want to spend their time wisely, but with more experience, managerial responsibilities take away from development. This causes developers to reduce hours spent on development. They may have to work in interrupted smaller sessions. This is where the Pomodoro Technique shines.
This problem inspired me to try a studying technique often used by students to get work done without feeling overwhelmed by a workload. The goal with Pomodoro is to set a timer for X minutes and take a planned break for a reduced time. Incorporating planned breaks is important during crunch time to avoid burnout.
Benefits of Working in Small Intervals
The small work interval is crucial to avoiding procrastination. Oftentimes, the hardest part about doing something daunting is just starting. The small work interval tricks you into thinking you only have to endure the painful task for 25 minutes. What ends up happening, though, is that you realize that the task you work on in your interval is not that bad. This can be helpful during times when you have a lot of meetings and it is difficult to get back into development mode.
One of the crucial aspects of the Pomodoro technique is setting your intentions for the 25-minute work interval. This is helpful because it identifies exactly what you want to try to accomplish in a small period of time. Setting intentions is necessary for the success of the work interval. Without it, the 25 work interval is less focused and can feel like too little time to accomplish something.
How to Break Down Feature Work Into Work Intervals
If you’re working in an agile framework, it is important to break down your stories or feature work into digestible 25-minute work intervals. For example, if you are working on being able to publish your items on a scheduling app, you could break it down into its individual components.
- Setup database schema
- Connect Prisma to database with connection string
- Write wrapper class for making Prisma queries for retrieve and publish
- Create API endpoint for writing/retrieving
- Add publish button, callback functions and relevant UI elements
Each item should be something you can complete in roughly 25 minutes. If it takes you more or less time, you can either break it down further next session or end the session early and start a new task.
Using Your Breaks to Keep a Dev Journal
Some Pomodoro apps allow you to write reflections after a working session to keep track of how your session went. I often use this to think about what difficult problems I encountered and how I could have improved my coding. Using a Pomodoro app that allows reflections and analytics tracking can help you better retain the information you learned while developing and prevent yourself from making the same mistakes again.
If you don’t have a reflection feature on your Pomodoro tool, you can keep a journal and write your reflections with a pen. Dev journals can help you with seeing your progress over time and can be useful during salary negotiations.
Why Do We Need Breaks?
During our work intervals, we are in this state of focused thinking. Focused thinking mode involves dealing with information we know and are familiar with. However, for learning new information, we need to be able to access diffused thinking. This is the kind of thinking that allows for new synapse connections in your brain to form. Diffused thinking only happens when your mind is relaxed, especially when you are asleep. Although sleeping for five minutes might not be feasible, stepping away from the problem you are working on helps you make connections between disparate ideas. This is often why you solve programming problems later on while showering or cooking.
It is really hard to step away from a problem you’re working on as a developer. We want nothing more than to solve it. This is why scheduled breaks are important. With the Pomodoro Technique, typically after four completed pomodoros, you take a long break, often half an hour. Respect your break time, and it will pay off because it is part of the secret to productivity.
Pomodoro Technique: A Powerful Tool
The Pomodoro Technique is a powerful tool to make work digestible, trackable, and intentional. It might take some time to get into the habit of remembering to practice Pomodoro. However, the payoffs are worth the effort of diligently keeping track of everything you are doing. This is also a good way to avoid burnout and be relieved from the burden of mental time management. So, get started with a great app and see how your productivity improves.