Closet Coder

I work in my closet. I code. Yep.

Things and Pomodoro

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For the last two years, I’ve been a loose GTD-er, using Cultured Code’sThings” to dump my brain and keep track of tasks to do. I never got into the “project” side of GTD–planning out every project and asking why… I’m sure it has value, but that was never the problem I was trying to solve with GTD.

I just wanted to keep up with all the stuff everyone wanted me to do and I was tired of having things so easily slip through the cracks.

Well, 2+ years later and I’ve gotten very used to capturing, scheduling, prioritizing and crossing off items from my master list that isn’t in my brain. Things has been great for this, if only for the “Today” feature. For those of you looking for a great GTD app, I’d still recommend Things even though it doesn’t have OTA sync yet and there are many performance issues. It’s a simple app that does a simple thing.

Now, though, I’ve discovered that I have a problem getting motivated to do items on my list. Motivation is always difficult, but I tend to be paralyzed when I’m not sure how I will complete something. It makes me fail to even get started. Enter the Pomodoro Technique. I read this over the weekend and it made a huge difference on the first day. If you struggle with motivation and procrastination, this is the technique for you.

I’ve got 2 years worth of data in “Things” and my Pomodoro Technique is pretty new, so my first big question was how to use them TOGETHER. While this is neither pure GTD nor pure Pomodoro, I think I already have a great way to use Things better than I ever have and to stay motivated. If you’d like to try it, read on.

If you haven’t already, go get familiar with GTD and Pomodoro. You can read the full PDF about Pomodoro for free.

Once you’re familiar, go download Focus Booster (or one of many other pomodoro timer apps out there). Then fire up “Things” and set up the following tags:

Now, set up a recurring task daily to “Prep for day” with a “1p” tag - 1 pomodoro. You can use this first pomodoro to parse through everything in your inboxes and Today list in Things. Estimate using the number keys… and if you end up estimating 8 or more, break it up. Use the c or ‘combine’ tag for tasks that are smaller than one pomodoro and could be combined together.

Now, prioritize the tasks in order, and start working on your first pomodoro by winding up Focus Booster and plowing through. When you’re done with the pomodoro, put an X in the notes section of the task you worked on. Check it off if you’ve finished it.

At the end of the day, go review your tasks in the log book and ask how you can do better.

100% software Pomodoro + GTD – I guarantee you can get lots done!