Tag Archives: Pomodoro Technique

How sure are you about your way of working?



Last year I suffered two breakdowns that made me realize that I was working wrong, and that I should see things differently…

In a typical month I would work many hours per day, 7 days a week until getting a breakdown and then I needed many days doing absolutely nothing so as to recover.  I understood that this is not the right approach.


The important is:

  • to keep a good, stable, everyday pace
  • to keep balance in both professional and personal level
  • know how to deal with distractions
  • develop strategies for dealing with procrastination.

Changing my previous way of working required to:
– be willing to truly and honestly recognize and also accept that I was wrong in my ways of working
– be open to use new working strategies
– do not be afraid to change and re-form those new strategies if they are not working for me.

Self-development requires understanding yourself, your mistakes and learning from them. My advice is that you should not be afraid to admit that you are wrong. No one is perfect! We all make mistakes. The point is to learn from them, not to repeat them!

This summer I discovered two academics blogs – Get a Life, PhD and Study Hacks  – that helped me realize of my mistakes. The creators of both blogs (Tanya Golash-Boza and Cal Newport, respectively) are often posting on how they monitor their daily, weekly or monthly productivity and how they experiment with new strategies and techniques for improving their working style. I was really inspired from them because they do not view themselves as “I have a successful working style, I do not need to change something” but they constantly try to develop themselves. Reading some of their posts made me realize that I can and should change my working style.

If I don’t want to repeat the same wrong working style as in the past, I have to recognize what I was doing wrong and how I can do things differently. So, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What is your goal?
  • Did you have the same goal in the past?
  • Why didn’t you accomplish your goal?
  • If you could turn the tine back, what would you do differently?

Judging yourself from an outside stance (with honesty and avoiding any excuses) is not an easy process. Yet, it is the only way if you really want to stop repeating the same old mistakes.

I have to admit that the most difficult part was not acknowledging my mistakes but actually changing my working style; employ new strategies and actually follow the working schedule that I planned.

It needs time to adjust in new routines and habits so give yourself some time and don’t expect miracles from day one. Keep implementing your new strategies and do not return to your comfort of old working habits.


Pomodoro Kitchen Timer for Action Logging

Pomodoro Kitchen Timer for Action Logging (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)


Three months ago I started using the pomodoro technique to monitor my daily and weekly productivity and keep a to-do-list for every day.

It took me a month before daily implementing the pomodoro technique because I was not used to the philosophy of working 25’ and then having a 5’ break. My previous preconception that “you should sit down and work for hours until you are done” was blocking me. After sometime I managed to get rid of those preconceptions but it was not an easy task…

Taking these short 5’ break every 25’ really helps me to be productive for many hours. I am proud to say that I have managed to work (concentrated) 5 hours/day! I do not manage to it every day, but I do not fall under 4 hours /day.

The pomodoro is not only a way of boosting your daily productivity but also a very good way to monitor yourself. It gives me an objective image of my real situation – I know exactly how many hours I worked (or not worked) daily. In the past I was saying “today I feel I worked a lot” but I never really knew how many hours I was really working.

Some days I get surprised: while I had the feeling that I didn’t worked a lot, I saw that I had accomplished my goal of 5 working hours. Other days it’s the opposite: I have the sense that I worked a lot but at the end of the day – checking the number of pomodoro sessions – I realize that actually I didn’t.


Another thing that I wasn’t accustomed in the past was to make a to-do-list, i.e. decide the previous day which will be my main tasks for the next day. Usually I was reading or writing with no specific schedule or goal in mind such as “today I’ll write about this, tomorrow about that”.

Now each Friday (or Sunday) afternoon I plan a working schedule for the next week (Monday-Friday) and assign specific tasks in each day. Additionally, at the end of each working day I re-plan my to-do-list for the next day depending on what I have accomplished.


These changes in my working style really helped me to stop thinking about my PhD all the time and having nightmares about it… I feel more relaxed now and can enjoy my free time because I know that I have things under control. I do not have to worry at night thinking about what I should do on the next day, because I already have set my to-do-list.

Also I now know how many hours I manage to work concentrated each day and this is a boost for my self-confidence. I know I’m productive and this makes me feel good. When I’m not so productive, it’s still ok because I have a real estimation of my situation and I know what adjustments I need to do in my weekly plan. All people have bad and good days. The important thing is the bad days to be an exception and not the rule!

When I use the term “working style” I refer to how someone deals and handles time, tasks, goals, breaks, motivation, procrastination, etc. For example,

  • Putting deadline in the working hours (e.g. I’ll work until 5 p.m.) or saying “I’ll work all day until I finish that”;
  • Setting daily/weekly/monthly goals;
  • Setting a plan for accomplishing your goals;
  • Ways of dealing with procrastination (e.g. Do you know which are the conditions under which you procrastinate? Do you know which things trigger procrastination? How do you handle procrastination?)
  • Keeping track of your working hours and tasks; check what is left to accomplish your goals

But enough about me!! What about you?

How sure are you that the working style you follow is the best for you?

Do you ever challenge yourself that you can develop your working style?

Are you satisfied with your current balance between work and personal life?



Filed under Managing time, Self Development