Nerd Business


Pomodoro technique is lame, but here’s a cool app

A friend recently gave me the headsup on the Pomodoro technique. It's a time management strategy. As you may know, I've been evolving a time management strategy of my own for some time now. So by the time I learned of Pomodoro - I had already been practicing the main gist of it. Which is that, our days should be broken down into small chunks to maximize focus. But other than that, my technique is quite different.

Though one thing I did find really useful from Pomodoro was the use of a timer. In fact, I'm now using the app below to help track time in my day - and it was designed specifically for Pomodoro technique.

Focus Booster

Focus Booster v1.2 (Mac, Windows, Linux via Adobe AIR)

If you're going to use it the right way (my way) here is what to do. Download the app. And set the timer to 90 minutes. Not 25, as suggested by the Pomodoro technique.

Now choose a target area of focus. This target area is anything in your life that is pressing (such as a project that is due) or something you are aspiring towards (like building your dream business). With a target area defined, start the timer. For this next 90 minutes, you will do nothing but focus on this one specific thing. And the things you do during this 90 minutes will be directly related to making forward progress towards achieving or manifesting whatever it is you need to create to achieve harmony on this particular 'thing' in your life.

Before you know it, 90 minutes will have passed. And you'll be surprised of the what you have accomplished. At the very least, I can guarantee you'll have some extent of measurable improvement. It's impossible not to at least make some kind of forward progress during a 90 minute session focused on just one thing. And that's powerful because - if you just do this every day on the same target area - aggregated progress will occur and the results will surprise you. Inevitably you will achieve whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

Plan tomorrow

The next step is to plan tomorrow. With my technique, you structure every day with 6 items. This is not a to-do list. In fact, these items are not "tasks" at all. They are, again, target areas of focus. During each 'focus session' you will exclusively think, do, and work at making forward progress in a specific area of your life.

The first session of your day is the 90 minute one. It is specifically for the most important thing in your life (project, responsibility, goal). You focus on this first thing in the morning, before anything else (but don't skip breakfast).

The other remaining 5 sessions will make use of the Focus Booster app's 90 minute timer as well, but for a slightly different purpose. Because that 90 minutes will now represent only a maximum duration. It's only there to prevent yourself from working too long. In fact, each of the remaining 5 sessions of your day need only consist of 15 minutes each. That's right, just 15 minutes. Of course, you can work longer if you have the energy for it - to a maximum of 90 minutes - but the bare minimum requirement is just 15 minutes.

Tricking your brain

The key is you only have to convince yourself to stay focused for 15 minutes. And that's sort of like playing a trick on your brain. It takes very little mental effort to say to yourself, "OK this project is huge and intimidating but all I have to do is just endure 15 minutes on it." And the funny thing is, you'll probably go a lot longer, even if you didn't plan on it - and without even knowing (or caring) that you did. And that there is quite possibly the biggest advantage of my technique. It gets you productive, even if you're lazy.

Once you've completed a 90 minute session to start the day, and 5 other 15 minute sessions throughout the remainder of the day - you can pat yourself on the back. There's some other pointers I should probably share, such as writing a list of your target areas of focus or planning days in advance just 3 items per day - but I'll save that for another post... cause today's Nerd Business session has almost used up 90 minutes ;)



The Japanese have a word called Kaizen. It basically means 'continuous improvement'. Software developers have a word like that too. It's called iteration. Whatever you want to call it, it's powerful. And you can apply the concept to time management. While you may not hit the mark perfectly every session - the very act of returning to that same topic of focus again, be it the next day or the next week, is a form of iteration. And it seems key to the manifestation process.