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Break. It. Up.

by Jamie Wagner

Since I started using the Pomodoro technique last October, I’ve noticed my work days to be substantially more productive as my head stays clear and focused all day. It was little bumpy getting started, but it soon worked its way into my workflow and I haven’t looked back. It wasn’t until this last week that I realized the importance of the whole process—both work blocks and breaks.

Last Friday, our client had a demo of the app we’ve been building for them. We were on schedule and everything was moving along smoothly, but deadlines will be deadlines…

A decent sized list amassed from a QA pass and the race to end-of-day began! I instantly reverted back to my old ways—single focused head-down mode of cranking until it’s done.

I didn’t start my timer, which subsequently meant, I didn’t take my breaks. (Who’s got time for breaks when a deadline is afoot?!) Hell, I barely got a sandwich down before I was back on the task at hand.

During the last two hours, I had exhausted my brain power but still had things left to do. I chugged through the list but I was sluggish and inefficient at best. I ended the day frustrated and brain dead. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of these.

This made me realize that the breaks aren’t just for the immediate five minute breathers, but for sustaining the longevity of the day. My old ways had me thinking I was better off working through the breaks. In hindsight, the time I “saved” by not taking my breaks ended up burning me in the end. I might of even ended the day earlier had I been more clear headed and refreshed in the final stretch.

That’s the last time I’ll hop off the Pomodoro wagon. Even in head-down mode, the whole process—breaks included—has proven itself invaluable to me, my sanity, and my work. So, note to self: Break. It. Up.

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