QC Dev 003: Pomodoro

Here’s what Blendo Games looks like:


I got the standing desk a couple years ago, largely because sitting for ungodly hours every day made me squirrely. For folks who have experienced stand-up meetings, you’ll know that forcing someone to stand on their feet prevents a lot of dilly-dallying and puttering around. If you feel meetings aren’t productive, try removing all chairs.

(I got a high stool for those lazy times.)

Butt in Chair

When I worked at Pandemic, I’d occasionally come to work an hour early and leave an hour early.


In that first hour, there were no interruptions: no barrage of email, no meetings, no one needing anything from me, and no one for me to go visit. And in that one hour, I was usually able to get a 1000+ hours’ worth of work done. I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea. An isolation chamber is far from the ideal working environment, but uninterrupted periods of butt-in-chair are invaluable.

Once I started Blendo Games, the concept of going to work an hour early no longer applied. I wanted some way to emulate that period of productivity, and a friend pointed me to the Pomodoro technique.


I follow the broad strokes of the Pomodoro technique. Here’s how I do it:

  1. On my computer desktop, I run a small timer called Workrave. It looks like this:


  1. For the next thirty minutes, I work. This means:

    • No checking email.

    • No checking phone.

    • No browsing internet.

    • No watching TV/movies in the background.

    • No getting snacks.

    • No musing about your existence relative to the universe.

    • Nothing but work.

  2. When the timer hits thirty minutes, take a break. This means: do anything you want. I don’t time my breaks, but they usually average 10 minutes.

  3. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Et Al

Once you remove distractions from the equation, the equation becomes dead simple - focus on one thing, and nothing but that one thing. Thirty minutes doesn’t sound very long, but it’s enough to ramp up to incredible momentum.

Bzzt, then the timer hits. I’m always tempted to maintain that momentum and barrel straight through the breaktime, but I find doing that ultimately fries my brain.

Spend a day and try it out! I’d love to hear how it goes.