Book: “Pomodoro Technique Illustrated” by Staffan Nöteberg

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A ‘Pomodoro’ is a block of several minutes where you do only one thing. So do not look at your phone, no news sites and no colleagues. The Pomodoro Technique is a method whereby you enable yourself to complete a number of Pomodoro every day. The unique thing about this book is that Staffan Nöteberg explains this technique to you by means of handy and easy-to-understand illustrations. That makes this book a very effective one: easy to read and understand.

A good book

‘Pomodoro Technique Illustrated’ is a good book that is easy to read. Chances are that this book is more than worth your time.
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Endless flow of information

The Pomodoro Technique was originally conceived by Francesco Cirillo. The technique revolves around what he calls ‘Pomodori’, in other words, blocks of a number of minutes in which you only do one thing.

Many of us are dealing with an endless stream of information and distractions. E-mail, phone calls, project management tools, meetings, Skype, Whatsapp, colleagues, social media, etc, etc.

‘Just a minute’

If it gets too much, your head wants to take a break. And so you go looking for ‘something else’. What that is exactly is often not clear to us, but you want to get away from your current activity.

In practice, most of us then dive into our phone: Whatsapp, social media, YouTube. Whether that is good or not is another topic.

‘Pomodoro’ is Italian for ‘tomato’. Cirillo states that he started the Pomodoro Technique by literally using a kitchen timer while working. In the time that that timer runs, he concentrates on just one thing. Once that time is done, he gives himself a break. That way you get things done and give yourself the time to recover.

Give yourself some slack

Cirillo and Nöteberg state that the best way to deal properly with all distractions is by closing yourself off to them at certain times. At the end of that period you allow yourself to do what you want: chatting with a colleague, calling a friend or stretching your legs.

These blocks are called Pomodoro (Pomodori in plural) in this method. The author recommends starting with short blocks of, for example, 10 minutes. Finally, Cirillo and Nöteberg recommend to use block lengths of 25 minutes.

You also determine the number of Pomodori per day and the break afterwards. In the book they give you ‘best practices’ to help you on your way.

Examples from the book

Procrastination increases with boring work
The last part of that boring project is very difficult to get rid of: you no longer have the energy. The chance of procrastination is increasing. Set yourself a clear limit: ‘Only 2x 25 minutes and then it’s done’. In between you take a break in the way you want. Now it can be done: go for it!

The slow transition between work and break
You come back from a wonderful lunch break. You sit down and look at your screen and desk: ‘What was I doing again?’ Sounds familiar? It takes a few minutes for you to get back to speed. That ‘start time’ costs not only time but also energy. If you let yourself be disturbed all day, you have to start up again and again. That is very inefficient. Moreover, it costs unnecessary energy.

Work is underestimated
In general we underestimate work: ‘Just do this’, you hear a colleague say. An hour later he or she is still busy: ‘Yes, I had to prepare something before I could start working’. Or: ‘Yes, it turned out to be more complicated than expected’. Break down your work as much as possible in clear blocks. That way you’ll be able to make a better assessment of your work. That removes uncertainty. This increases your confidence and plan reliability.

Target audience

This book is interesting for anyone who regularly has to concentrate on his or her work. I expect that almost every reader will get useful tips when reading this book. Through all the illustrations, the Pomodoro Technique Illustrated is easy to process: you do not have to read everything in detail to understand it.

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