Theo has been using the Pomodoro Technique as a Software Development Manager at work and as a husband/father at home on daily base since August 2012. With Pomodoro, getting things done is fun again, and he really gets things done! At the end of the day he’s got more time left to pursue his hobbies like taking photos, taking courses, reading books and blogging. He’s also got more time to spend with his family.

“Work gets done! Even when my day is chopped into half. And I can even work on private tasks like a blog post at home or filling out a Pomodoro request for a Certified Pomodoro Master in Pomodoro World.”

Theo Van Der Sluijs – Software Development Manager


PT: When did you begin using the Pomodoro Technique?

T: I started using the Pomodoro Technique at the end of August. I first read the book, then I looked at and read a lot of sites/blogs to see what’s been written about the Pomodoro Technique. I use a digital timer (having my headset on) as I don’t want to disturb my colleagues.

PT: Why did you start using the Pomodoro Technique?

T: I was working on multiple tasks at the same time, and none of them got finished!

PT: What do you use the Technique for?

T: I’m using the Pomodoro Technique for tasks I have to do at work, and stuff I want to do at home (like writing blogposts).


FINDING OUT HOW MUCH TIME A TASK REQUIRES

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: At first I had no idea how long a task would take, not in 25 minute anyway. We are using Scrum at work and I could say that a task would take 2 or 3 hours up to 16 hours. But putting tasks in 25 periods is something I never did or thought of.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: I tried to split the tasks in even smaller tasks, until they became so small that they took only a few minutes. Then I started putting them together until i reached a complete task that fits into one or multiple Pomodoros.

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Now I am able to make a better estimation on how long a task will take.


CUTTING DOWN ON INTERRUPTIONS

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: Okay, I’m a Manager… so a lot of people come and go. So… doing a pomodoro is really difficult as people interrupt me every 5 minutes. Not only by walking in, but also by mail and phone.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Mail was the easiest. Just close outlook while doing a non-email related Pomodoro. But the walking in and phone was something different. I talked to my colleagues about this and I just planned Pomodoro at the beginning of the day. So the first half of the working day is for Pomodoros, the second half is “walking in” time. When I recognize the phone number of a colleague on the phone, I take the call (as they know that in the morning they may only call when the place is burning down). When I don’t recognize the number of who is calling, the call is forwarded after 3 rings to another colleague. Of course when my colleague starts using the Pomodoro Technique, we’ll have another problem.

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Multiple! First of all, I have a more organized day! I always start early whenever I can (preferably before any colleagues start working) so the goals I want to achieve in the morning are that all tasks are done. Secondly, people now know when to not interrupt me.


ESTIMATING THE EFFORT FOR ACTIVITIES

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: At first I did not know how to make tasks small enough to make them fit into Pomodoros.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: I started really with a low profile. I just started cutting and cutting and cutting a task into little (really little) pieces. At that moment I could exactly say how long a mini task would take. During the time the estimation become more accurate and I started putting mini tasks back together to become a real task . So at a certain time I started the day updating the activity sheet fitting the activities in Pomodoros. My working Pomodoro day never exceeds eight Pomodoros. Recording the estimates really helped with this. At first it was quite a shock to see that the tasks did not seem to fit into any Pomodoro:-).

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Estimations are more accurate and I actually get things done within the time I calculated!


MAKING THE POMODORO MORE EFFECTIVE

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: At first it was to fit tasks in a pomodoro, and the interruptions didn’t help.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: Well, the biggest change was telling my colleagues that they couldn’t just walk in anymore. Also I really had to push my self to record all the pomodoros. At first I was more a do-er instead of a thinker. Now I think first and than start the task.

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Tasks became easier to work on as I had more information.


SET UP A TIMETABLE

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: As a Manager it was quite difficult to find the right time table.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: I just recorded for a week when people walked in, when phone calls were made, e.g. After one week I had a pretty good idea about what were the busiest times. After two weeks I told my team and other managers about the Pomodoro technique and we decided when interruptions would be acceptable. Now as a manager there is always important work that should be done today. But when? Often I just do those tasks at home in the evening. When the kids are in bed I work with the Pomodoro on the tasks with high priority on the top of my activity list.

PT: What were the benefits?

T: Work gets done! Even when my day is chopped into half. And I even can work on private tasks like working on a blog at home or filling out a Pomodoro request for a Certified Pomodoro Master in Pomodoro World.


DEFINING YOUR OWN OBJECTIVE

PT: What did you choose as your personal objective?

T: My personal objective was working on my blog once again. Because of my work and busy life at home (wife, two kids) I did not have time to do other stuff.

PT: What difficulties did you encounter?

T: Actually I dont have difficulties, I am starting to use the Pomodoro also when I am writing blog posts.

PT: How did you overcome the difficulties?

T: By starting the Pomodoro Technique!

PT: What were the benefits?

T: The big benefit is that I now have more time for my hobbies.