Some of my colleagues have been applying the Pomodoro technique to their pair programming of late, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m trialling a combination of tools which now integrates my Pomodoros more with my daily working life and I’ll set them out in this post.
I’m currently coding in XCode on a Mac so I discovered the Pomodoro app (available via AppStore or source code) which adds a countdown timer to my status bar at the top. It’s got a range of good features to it that brings it well above just being a glorified egg timer. The two features I’m liking the most are the GTD (Getting Things Done) and Calendar integration.
In the GTD section, the Pomodoro app sets my iChat status announcing my current Pomodoro and what time I’ll be done by. It automatically marks me as Busy during my Pomodoro and sets me back available afterwards and marking me as on one of my rest breaks. We’re using GChat more at work now so this is perfect because it can hopefully guide people who want to contact me on to the best time to do so.
In the Calendar section, I’ve set it up to log my Pomodoros to iCal. I’ve linked iCal to Google Calendar following a guide from Google’s help pages on how to use CalDAV to sync the two. I changed my Google Calendar’s notification settings to stop adding Email/Popup notifications for each Event by default. Before I’d done this iCal was alerting me to Pomodoros I’d already completed which was pointless.
So I can now embark on a fresh Pomodoro with a simple click or keypress, enter the description for the Pomodoro and know that my colleagues can see my current status and know that I’m tracking my own Pomodoro progress in my calendar at the same time.
I’ll let you know how the experiment continues, but at the moment it’s proving a positive way of focussing intently for a fixed period. The integration from using the Pomodoro app with iChat and iCal does provide a very immersive Pomodoro experience.