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Effective time management with Pomodoro technique


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Presentation from Agile Base Camp conference (Kiev, january 2010) about experience report of using Pomodoro technique for effective time management.

Published in: Technology, Business

Effective time management with Pomodoro technique

  1. 1. Effective time management with Pomodoro Alimenkou Mikalai [email_address] 23.01.2010
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Java Technical Lead/Scrum Master at Zoral Labs </li></ul><ul><li>5+ years in software development </li></ul><ul><li>3+ years of working by Agile methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>Expert in Agile engineering practices </li></ul><ul><li>Agile coach (TDD, Testing, Planning) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Agenda <ul><li>Why I need time management? </li></ul><ul><li>Pomodoro technique basics </li></ul><ul><li>Experience report </li></ul><ul><li>Tools and best practices </li></ul>
  4. 4. I’m not going to talk about … <ul><li>Planning your future </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritizing your values </li></ul><ul><li>Family </li></ul><ul><li>Setting goals </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Avoiding stress and staying healthy </li></ul>
  5. 5. Am I efficient enough?
  6. 6. Yes, definitely yes! <ul><li>I have a lot of skills </li></ul><ul><li>I have much experience </li></ul><ul><li>I manage my time well enough </li></ul><ul><li>I try to help others </li></ul><ul><li>I have clear goals </li></ul>
  7. 7. Then why do I need to change? I fill like a hamster in a wheel I can’t measure my performance I feel stressed and tired at work I’m doing some tasks simultaneously I have no or small breaks I don’t know what to improve
  8. 8. More symptoms <ul><li>Reduced performance </li></ul><ul><li>Communication breakdown </li></ul><ul><li>Lower job satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Poor decision making </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on unproductive tasks </li></ul>
  9. 9. What are the reasons? <ul><li>Poor planning </li></ul><ul><li>Many interruptions </li></ul><ul><li>Cluttered workspace </li></ul><ul><li>Inefficient delegation </li></ul><ul><li>Many chaotic meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Noisy environment </li></ul><ul><li>Waiting and delays </li></ul><ul><li>No clear priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Huge email flow </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks </li></ul><ul><li>No rhythm </li></ul><ul><li>Too many responsibilities </li></ul>
  10. 10. Convey’s four-quadrant
  11. 11. Parkinson’s Law Work expands to fill the time available for doing it
  12. 12. Why we do nothing about it? We need kick in the ass to start changing
  13. 13. Time management ideas attacked me from … <ul><li>“ Peopleware ” by Tom DeMarco </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitating Scrum meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Scrum planning </li></ul><ul><li>Kanban WIP limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Lean “Eliminate waste” principle </li></ul><ul><li>TDD practice </li></ul><ul><li>Pair programming </li></ul><ul><li>Buzz around Pomodoro technique </li></ul>
  14. 14. I decided to try Pomodoro
  15. 15. Pomodoro rules <ul><li>A Pomodoro is indivisible </li></ul><ul><li>After each Pomodoro take small break (3-5 minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>After 4 Pomodoros take a longer break (15-30 minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>Once a Pomodoro begins , it has to ring </li></ul><ul><li>The next Pomodoro will go better </li></ul>
  16. 16. Additional rules <ul><li>Protect your Pomodoro </li></ul><ul><li>Breaks are breaks! “Disconnect” from work. </li></ul><ul><li>Review the same task if done before Pomodoro rings </li></ul><ul><li>Void the Pomodoro if interrupted </li></ul>
  17. 17. What to do during breaks? <ul><li>Looking out of the window </li></ul><ul><li>Eating or drinking </li></ul><ul><li>Have a fun </li></ul><ul><li>Walking </li></ul><ul><li>Relaxing </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss something </li></ul><ul><li>Read news, emails, chat messages </li></ul><ul><li>Even sleeping  </li></ul>
  18. 18. Estimation rules <ul><li>If task takes more than 8 Pomodoros break it down </li></ul><ul><li>If task takes less than 1 Pomodoro combine it with other tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Use Inventory Sheet to allocate all tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Use Today Sheet to allocate daily tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Use yesterday’s Pomodoros “weather” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Inventory Sheet structure <ul><li>Fine grained tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Ordered by priority </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated in Pomodoros (optional) </li></ul>
  20. 20. Today Sheet structure <ul><li>Contains daily tasks with estimations </li></ul><ul><li>Done Pomodoros marked </li></ul><ul><li>Record interruptions </li></ul><ul><li>Make session notes and facts </li></ul>
  21. 21. Pomodoro normal cycle <ul><li>Reprioritize tasks if needed </li></ul><ul><li>Select top priority task for Pomodoro from Today Sheet </li></ul><ul><li>Start Pomodoro </li></ul><ul><li>When Pomodoro rings close sentence/code line/thought </li></ul><ul><li>Mark Pomodoro as done </li></ul><ul><li>Have a break </li></ul>
  22. 22. What if? <ul><li>Interruption happens </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to protect current Pomodoro </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it is impossible then void Pomodoro </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If possible schedule interruption as task in Today Sheet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increment interruptions counter for current task </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unplanned task happens </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Finish current task </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add unplanned task to Inventory Sheet or Today Sheet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reprioritize on next Pomodoro </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. More about interruptions <ul><li>Internal interruptions (phone call, email, chat, etc.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make them visible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to formulate interruption as a task </li></ul></ul><ul><li>External interruptions (by other people) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inform others about current Pomodoro </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to reschedule interruption </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always call back to build trust </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Organizational Pomodoro <ul><li>Prepare Today Sheet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Select unfinished tasks from previous day </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add tasks from Inventory Sheet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make estimations, break tasks if necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set priorities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prepare to working day </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Start needed applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check all necessary information sources (email, chat, task tracking system) </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Pomospective <ul><li>Update Today Sheet and Inventory Sheet </li></ul><ul><li>Update statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Make notes about today’s session </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze daily progress and make decisions about enhancements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How many Pomodoros have you done? Why so many/few? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are estimations has been well done? Why not? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you feel tired or stressed? Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is rhythm established? Can interruptions be avoided? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Check again all necessary information sources (email, chat, task tracking system) </li></ul>
  26. 26. How to select Pomodoro length? <ul><li>Not very long </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To minimize interruptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To stay focused </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To be flexible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not very short to perform some work </li></ul><ul><li>25 + 5 = 30 minutes for easy calculations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8 hours = 1 Organizational Pomodoro + 1 Pomospective + 3 sets of 4 Pomodoros + 1 hour for breaks </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Pomodoro metrics <ul><li>Pomodoros done per task type/tag </li></ul><ul><li>Pomodoros done per day </li></ul><ul><li>Number of interruptions </li></ul><ul><li>Percent of unplanned tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Estimations reality factor </li></ul>
  28. 28. It looks like Scrum <ul><li>Inventory Sheet = Product Backlog </li></ul><ul><li>Today Sheet = Sprint Backlog + Sprint Burndown </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational Pomodoro = Sprint Planning </li></ul><ul><li>Pomodoro = Ideal Day </li></ul><ul><li>Daily Finished Pomodoros = Velocity </li></ul><ul><li>Unplanned Task = Unplanned Task </li></ul><ul><li>Pomospective = Retrospective </li></ul>
  29. 29. Tips and tricks <ul><li>Everything is tasks (fun, investigation, reading, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid information overloading </li></ul><ul><li>Take biological clock into account </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t yield to temptation make quick interruption (read email, answer in a chat, make phone call, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Collective Pomodoro breaks (lunch, sport, discussion) </li></ul>
  30. 30. Pomodoro tools <ul><li>Physical Pomodoro timer + paper </li></ul><ul><li>Software timer + paper </li></ul><ul><li>Any timer + plain files </li></ul><ul><li>Any timer + spreadsheets </li></ul><ul><li>Special tools </li></ul>
  31. 31. Extended techniques <ul><li>Avoid planning when you have much experience </li></ul><ul><li>Use Pomodoro for meetings and other working activities </li></ul><ul><li>Thank yourself for good work </li></ul><ul><li>If interruptions level is low don’t track them </li></ul><ul><li>Use tags or task types to control activity distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Use tags for each user story and application layer </li></ul>
  32. 32. Pomodoro benefits <ul><li>Helps with Scrum daily meeting preparation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Pomospective and yesterday Today Sheet to answer “What was done?” and “What is blocking progress?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Today Sheet to answer “What will be done?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Separate Organizational Pomodoro helps to prepare to working day </li></ul><ul><li>Improves estimations precision </li></ul><ul><li>Improves productivity </li></ul><ul><li>Increases self-discipline </li></ul>
  33. 33. Useful links <ul><li>Resources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> - technique website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> - free PDF book </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> - Focus Booster </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> - Pomodairo </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> - Pomodoro </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> - Pomodori </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Any questions?