I learned about the Pomodoro technique long ago, but I gave it a try only recently. Its essence is timeboxing, ie. breaking the worktime to fix sized chunks. The original description states many other subtle aspects, but they are less important, or even counter productive.

Timeboxing is simple. Work for a fixed duration uninterrupted, say 25 minutes. Set an alarm to keep the time. After the dedicated time elapses, take a 5-minute break. The rule is to do anything but working. Restart the cycle after that. After 4 sprints, take a longer break.

You can formalize and complicate it more, like at the original Pomodoro. There are strict rules on how to deal with interruptions during working, and exactly how long the rests should be. At first, don’t optimize it too much. Doing it comes first, perfection later.

I observe numerous benefits when I use timeboxing. The first is increased self-control. I procrastinate less when I have only a limited allocated time. Also I drink more water. Doing time boxing throughout the day gives it a rhythm; I feel the need to stand up and walk a little, and I grab a glass of water in the meantime. It means around half liter every hour in the morning, which should be enough.

What you should do in the resting period is vaguely defined, but getting up from the computer is a good thing. I find myself walking up and down for a few minutes, and I feel refreshed for the next sprint.

On the downside, I perceive the day as lot shorter than before. In the past I had an uncountable amount of minutes, enough for everything I want to do; now I have only 8-10 25-minutes sprints to do most of my work and learning. Objectively I accomplish more, but I feel I have less remaining time for each task. I can no longer say lightheartedly that I’ll do a particular todo when I know it will span at least 2 sprints and it’s already late afternoon.

I’m glad I’ve taken up this habit. It has many downsides, but I feel more in-control and be able to get more done.

To get started, set your alarm for 25 minutes, drink a glass of water and walk for a few minutes. Then restart the timer. And that’s it, after a few days, you’ll begin to feel its rhythm.