I like to be at work early in the morning, at 8am, and have the whole office just for myself for an hour. I can spend the first 30 minutes having a coffee, breakfast, using the bathroom, checking email and quickly running through the news.
There is a new activity among them as of recently, and that is the adding of tasks to the Activity Inventory sheet and copying the important ones onto the To Do Today sheet. It only takes a few minutes, but it's an important ritual for me, the initiation of the day, during which I make sure that I'm going to have just enough tasks ready to spend my day working on.
If I feel lucky, I squeeze in a Pomodoro before anybody shows up in the office. Usually it is just a couple of small tasks left over from yesterday, or a review of what was done the day before, or a research needed for the today's tasks. Frankly, it's the stuff I wouldn't feel too bad if interrupted by the colleagues arriving to the office.
There's never much done at the office at around 9am all the way almost to 10am. It's the people chatting at the coffee machine, discussing the last night's dinner and television. Then we have a daily meeting, often just a very quick one to summarize the previous day and to give the boss heads-up about the plan for today. The Record sheet and the To Do Today sheet come very handy at this occasion. After the meeting I update the Activity Inventory sheet with any tasks assigned to me at the meeting, decide, which of them need to be done today and copy those to the To Do Today sheet. It's 10:30am and I am ready for the day.
The next two hours are usually the most productive part of the day. It is just after the morning chat, the meeting has just finished, so the chance of an interruption is generally lower than in the other parts of the day. I wind my first Pomodoro, focus for 25 minutes, break for a couple of minutes, and along come next three Pomodoros.
I always make sure to make the breaks real breaks and switch off my brains for a little moment. I use the breaks to go for a quick walk, to make a cup of tea or to have a quick snack. I even allow myself to check Facebook, or call my girlfriend, shamelessly interrupting her "pomodoros".
By 12:30pm on an average day, I have four to five Pomodoros under my belt and the time is right for a long break. I try to get out of the office, go grab sushi, shopping, get petrol, or wash the car. If I'm having lunch at the office, I read news or just browse the web.
The second set of four Pomodoros takes place between 1pm and 3pm and often contains a couple of interruptions which I try to deal with along the lines of the Inform, Negotiate and Reschedule procedure, with more or less success. This is definitely something I'm going to have to work on, as I understand now how important is to protect your Pomodoro and how malicious the interruptions are.
At 3pm I have the second long break and the last hour at work every day I spend either at a meeting, or just slowly switching off after a productive day, feeling good about the job done, not trying to push myself into another couple of Pomodoros. I wash my dishes, clean the coffee machine, tidy my desk, and most importantly, update my Activity Inventory to strike-through all the finished tasks, and record them in the Record sheet. Just like planning my day in the morning and compiling the To Do Today list gets me ready for the day, this is a ritual which helps me to change my brains' transmission to neutral and forget about the today's work, yet feel good about it.
Just to give you another real life example, it took eight Pomodoros to write the draft of this blog post. The first set of four I did on a Saturday afternoon, using the breaks to shave, then to put together my snorkeling gear, and to have a very quick shower. Then I went to the beach. When I got back home, I spent another four Pomodoros, with the breaks spent in the bathroom, checking Facebook, then Twitter.
Originally I expected myself to be able to write the article in just three Pomodoros, but after the first two I realized I had to review my estimation and changed it to six Pomodoros, ending up with eight in the end. Since this is the first time I used the Pomodoro Technique to write a blog post, the error in estimation is understandable and I will make sure for the difference to be smaller next time.
Also, I have to confess, I voided my sixth Pomodoro since I had to answer the girlfriend's phone call. Look, it's Saturday, let's not be to serious about the whole thing and even when working, know your priorities. Anyway, when you're starting a Pomodoro, ask yourself how much it is important for you not to be interrupted and based on that you can even switch off the phone, shut the door, crank up the music and disconnect from the outside world.
The next day, I spent another five Pomodoros on the article, two to fill in missing paragraphs, one to re-read and spell check, and one for each splitting it to three parts and brushing up the first one.