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Pomodori and Deep Work

April 14, 2019

I brought pomodori back this week after listening to the podcast episode with Productivity with Mani Vaya. Mani won me over early in the interview by citing Cal Newport as an influence and specifically Deep Work. I would have thought that Deep Work and pomodori wouldn’t be very compatible, since the latter creates disruptions every 25 minutes taking you out of the flow.

After buying a pomodoro timer for myself (~$8 to get it to sync between my laptop and my phone), I find that there are really two major reasons why this concern is unfounded:

  1. At Mani’s suggestion, during the breaks, I did not check email, my phone, etc., but just got up and walked around a bit, got water, took a bio break, etc. Basically anything other than work but without allowing my attention to get sucked into a different problem.
  2. Assuming I do #1 correctly, then the breaks serve as a mini-Hemingway Stop for me. My brain keeps processing, but I’m forced to step away. That gives my brain a bit of a break, but when I come back, I know exactly where I stopped and can pick it back up quickly.

It took me a few days to actually add an intention for my pomodori, but since doing it, I’ve found them to be even more motivating. I really want to finish the task in that 25 minutes - even though I know that I could just do another one after the break.

The final point here is that Mani has a “pomodoro challenge” he talked about - 200 minutes of pomodori before noon. That’s “just” eight pomodori. With breaks, it would mean you need to start around 7am in order to hit it. I didn’t. But, I did consistently hit a goal of 10 / day this week. We’ll see if I keep it going, but so far, am a big fan of how it keeps me focused and engaged.


Stephen Weiss

Written by Stephen Weiss who lives in Chicago with his wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Follow him on Twitter!