Mary Dickson Diaz

Code, Life, Learning


Taking a break from weekend homework of re-coding a webpage from sight (“umm… they have some stuff here, and some other stuff there, and a box over there… and a dancing box below that”) to talk productivity, people.

I have been fairly good at starting my days with a to-do list. It gives me focus, options, and (if I’m lucky) a sense of accomplishment.

Real talk though, with some of these coding questions/tasks, hours can pass by and I realize I’ve made little to no progress for one of at least three reasons:

1. rabbit holes — when the work is based on the internet, the internet LOVES to distract.

2. spending too much time trying to find an answer myself without asking/looking for help

3. giving up too soon and looking for an answer before puzzling with it some more (this may get the task done, but it’s a learning/mastery fail)

One possible solution… POMODOROS. At a very basic level, the Pomodoro Technique involves focusing intently on one task for a set amount of time, then taking a beak. No-brainer, right? More sophisticated uses involve predicting and tracking how many pomodoros (blocks of time) you anticipate that a task will take, and adjusting for unexpected events and redirections. In a lifehacker poll, Pomodoro was the top scoring productivity method, followed closely by Getting Things Done (which I also love).

There are a whole bunch of apps out there but a very basic one I am currently trying is tomato timer.

(Sidenote: here’s a New York Times article about computer programmers who use Pomodoros but that is only a tiny part of the article, the larger chunk is about this thing called pair programming OH GOD REALLY WHY??)

I am going to try this in the coming week and see how it works for me. For example, I have five minutes left in the current block, which is ample time to finish this post. Without that knowledge and self-imposed time limit (well, let’s call it a recommendation), I might spend much longer, poking at syntax, looking for links and pictures… stuff that won’t dramatically improve this blog post. So I will end it here, spell-check, and move on.


1 Comment

  1. After 13 years working in middle and upper school as a teacher and administrator–two tools I love: pomodoros and time timers–the GIANT clock in the room that you use to keep meetings or other activities running on time. Way to go, Mary!

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