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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pomodoro Technique for Effective Time Management

I am sure all of us will be interested in getting some extra time each day. Pomodoro technique is a time management cum concentration improvement technique. As you will learn, it's a simple and easy technique with no sophistication associated with it.

The Technique

Pomodoro technique was developed by a software engineer named Francesco Cirillo. Essentially the technique is to do one thing at a time timed for 25 minutes and keeping away any distractions whatsoever. You pick up a task in hand, start a timer for 25 minutes and start doing it keeping away all other frills - be it persons or electronics. Distractions could mean anything from checking Facebook to humming your favorite song.

At the end of 25 minutes, you note down two things -- whether you were able to finish off what you started with and distractions you encountered, if any. It's important to keep a tap of any distractions you encounter during the 25 minutes. Once the designated 25 minutes is over, you either have finished the work or require more time. However you have consciously tried to focus on it alone as well as be aware of the distractions stopping you from achieving your goal.

Sprints and Retrospectives

After each 25 minutes sprint, you take a short break to rejuvenate yourself. Francesco recommends to take a longer break after four such twenty-five minutes sessions. A pomodoro session also acts as a tracking unit. You can check, how many sprints of 25 minutes does it take to complete your task. The inventor also suggests that, in case you are distracted by others or circumstances during a pomodoro session, we need to start again.

It take close parallels with agile principles that we follow in software development world. Getting a working model or prototype in short and quick sprints of time. It's also interesting, the name pomodoro comes from the tomato shaped timer, Francesco used to use. Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato.

Pomodoro Apps

Since most of us are glued to either our laptop or mobile devices, one may look for an app doing this time keeping. I could find two such apps. Tomighty is an open source desktop timer based on pomodoro technique. It helps to keep track of sprints and break as suggested by the technique. If you are looking for an android app, plenty of timer apps based on this technique are available.

Have you used this or any other time management technique, what are your thoughts...?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Book Summary: Time Power by Brian Tracy

Brian starts the book with usual motivational stuff to attract to the book and time management in general. He talks about the 3 myths or barriers to time management everyone may face:

  1. It affects the naturalness and spontaneity (You will lead a mechanical life!)
  2. Negative Mental Programming (I am like this by birth :) )
  3. Self Limiting Beliefs (I don't have the ability!)

Brian continues the book by explaining some of the techniques you can use to be more effective and improve your performance like:

1. Use positive self talk. He stresses how having reiterative positive self-talk can have an impact
2. Visualize yourself as highly efficient. He proposes to keep high visualizations of success - be it posters, mental visualizations or positive self-talks.
3. Act the part. Start doing as if you have reached the goal. For example, if you were aiming to be a manager; start thinking and opining like a business manager.
4. Benchmark against the best. Have a role model
5. Become a Teacher
6. Be a role model to others.

I liked the three Self Esteem Builders :

  • Determining Your Values
  • Striving for Mastery
  • Knowing What you Want

This book is full of good tips and tricks like:

  • Twelve Proven Principles for Peak Performance
  • The Seven Practices of Time Power
  • How to achieve your goals faster and remove the obstacles.

Some of the tips that Brian Tracy explains in this book are:

new habit pattern formation takes about 21 days of practice and repetition

Your ability to clearly and systematically create goals, and plans for their accomplishment, will help you more to achieve success and happiness than any other skill you could develop
I liked the four ideas for personal organization:

1. Neatness Is a Key Habit
2. Stand Back and Evaluate Yourself
3. Refuse to Make Excuses
4. Work from a Clean Desk

Further, Brian explains in detail how to set the priorities. Nice to see he also mentions the Pareto's Principle

Four Steps to High Productivity:

1. Set clear written goals & objectives
2. Develop detailed plan of action for aceiveing your goal
3. Set clear priorities
4. Concentrate single mindedly on important thing you can do to achieve your set goal

When you accept complete responsibility for achieving your goal, people will emerge to help you and guide you along the path to your success. But when you make excuses, blame others, and expect them to help you, they will ignore you and avoid you. When you look to yourself first, you are far more likely not only to be more successful, but to attract into your life the support of the people you need. If you look to other people to help you achieve your goals, you will almost always be disappointed.