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Inspirational Nugget of the Week
Pomodoros for Health and Focus
If you have searched for productivity hacks before, you've probably heard of the Pomodoro technique. If not, it's a method where you work in 30-minute intervals. Before starting each interval, you pick a task and try to focus on that task to the exclusion of everything else. After each interval you take a break of a couple of minutes. After every third or fourth interval, you take a longer break to recharge.
It's called Pomodoro after the tomato-shaped kitchen timers that are used to measure cooking time.
The Pomodoro technique creates a bit of pressure to help get things done. After all, you don't want to spend 5 Pomodoros on something that you thought would be done in 2. With a bit of practice, it also helps you to focus better. After some time, each Pomodoro becomes a precious stretch of uninterruptable time that you are looking forward to!
But focus isn't the only thing the Pomodoro technique can help you with! The Pomodoro technique is perfect for building new habits!
According to "The Power of Habits" (see my book review here) habits consist of a cue, a routine, and a reward. Here's a habit you probably have:
A habit needs a cue to be triggered: "Every time I leave the house ..."
The cue triggers the routine of the habit: "... I check if I have the keys ..."
For a habit to become sticky, the routine needs to be rewarded: " ... so that I can go out without worrying to lock myself out."
If you think about it, the Pomodoro technique gives you a framework for building habits. Every day, it provides you with a number of triggers:
"Every time I start a Pomodoro, ..."
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, ..."
"Every time I start a long break after 3 Pomodoros, ..."
You can use these triggers to groom new habits that help you focus:
"Every time I start a Pomodoro, I close all my browser tabs and chats, so that I can feel focused."
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, I take a walk around the house, so that I can feel refreshed."
"Every time I start a Pomodoro, I put a scratchpad and pen next to my keyboard, so that I can get distracting ideas out of my head during the Pomodoro."
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, I go through the notes on my scratchpad, so that I can feel good about getting them done."
But the Pomodoro technique not only helps with focus. It can also help to keep you healthy:
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, I drink a glass of water, so that I can feel refreshed."
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, I do 10 push-ups, so that I can cross them off in my journal."
"Every time I start a long break after 3 Pomodoros, I take a walk around the block, so that I can listen to my audiobook."
"Every time I finish a Pomodoro, I change my sitting/standing position on my desk, so that I can feel good about not getting stiff."
The Pomodoro technique has worked for me on and off, but I never established it as a long-lasting habit. But having written this, I'll try it out again. Try out if it works for you. If it works, it's a powerful habit-building habit :).
Queues are a powerful tool for decoupling services. Instead of calling a service synchronously, we put a message in a queue. The service won't get overwhelmed by synchronous requests of its clients but instead can consume the messages from the queue at its own pace.