but you knew that
How I Pomodoro
December 28, 2012
tags: mac, pomodoro, time_management, alfred, ruby
I use the Pomodoro Technique quite a bit but I've never been comfortable with the hard stop for my 'on-task' timer for my Pomodoros. 25 minutes is about the right duration for me but only rarely is it the exact right duration. Usually I need a small amount of time to get to a nice stopping point. The breakdown for me is in the 30 to 90 seconds I take to wrap things up. Invariably, I lose track of time and my Pomodoro cadence gets all out of whack.

Recently, I've put together a few tools/apps and now I like where I'm at Pomodorically. Here's a rundown:

Pomodoro App
Unfortunately the app is discontinued but if you're looking for something similar keep these features in mind.
1) It keeps a log of what I've worked on.
pomodoro log
I rely on this when I put my timesheet together.
and 2)It pops up a sticky notifier when the time is up. Great!
pomodoro notifier
The app uses Growler with the important part being the notification is sticky. Because it's sticky, I'm less likely to forget where I'm at in the Pomodoro process.
countdown_timer ruby script
I use the Pomodoro mac app for my task time, but to time my breaks I wrote a command line ruby script (I'm sure something already exists for this, but writing software is fun). It's on github and it uses Eloy Duran's binary for terminal-notifier. From the command line I can start the timer like so:
      ruby countdown_timer.rb 5 minutes  
      ruby countdown_timer.rb 30 seconds  
      ruby countdown_timer.rb 15:00  
Here's some sample output:
I love my command line, but Alfred's shell extensions are what make this process palatable. I added a shell extension to Alfred and when it's time for a Pomodoro break I use the Alfred shortcut to fire up my countdown_timer.

Alfred preferences:
alfred preferences

and a screen shot of Alfred in action:
alfred in action

With these tools in place, here's my process:
  • Fire up a Pomodoro task: 'work on this thing'
  • type, think, type, think, ...
  • Time's up! Growler notifier stuck on my terminal
  • Stop thinking(this is easy) and type a little more so I know where to pick up after the break.
  • type, type, type. done. Where was I? Ahh right, time for a 5 minute break.
  • fire up alfred and enter the command to start my countdown timer. ie: <alt>+<space> ct 5 m <return>
  • hang loose until the notifier pops up
  • lather rinse repeat

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Mark Haskamp
navigating crankiness toward simplicity