The parable about how the Pomodoro technique saved an avid workaholic

    Have you ever been captured by your own passion for perfectionism, the desire to succeed and become a pro in your favorite business? I happened to experience how the love of what I do turned first into a golden cage, and then into hard bonds. Do you recognize yourself? Then welcome to the club of avid workaholic suicides! I will tell you my story about how I decided to get rid of the shackles that I voluntarily put on myself, and how the Pomodoro technique helped me in this.

    ... Perhaps it’s worth starting with the fact that before I worked much more than the usual 40 working hours per week that Henry Ford set for us all. Once, the normal mode for me was to work out 60-80 hours a week, or even more. I belong to those people who get up early without problems, even if they went to bed in the morning. So to work at night on an urgent project seemed to me quite normal. For the time being ...

    The peak of insanity is two weeks of 20 hours of work daily, total 140 hours a week! Tons of coffee and food at the computer, there was no time for procrastination. I went to bed when it was light to start the working day again with everyone - at 8-9 a.m., and if I managed to sleep for 3 hours, it was a luxury. In a dream, I continued to solve work problems - the Tetris effect, have you heard about this? After such a march, I had to sleep for three days. Result: the project was commissioned, it was possible to jokingly boast how good I am — in two weeks I did what it would have taken a couple of months in a normal situation. But in fact, I felt disgusting - the level of stress that my body suffered was steeper than any “medal for performance” that can be trumped to partners and customers.

    Do you need it?

    And in the end, what did we get to work 60-80 hours a week? One fine day, I decided that I had enough. I just found that I want to have free time, like all normal people who come home from work in the evening, so I firmly decided that after five (at that time I started work at 6 in the morning) I turned off the computer and did not touch it until the next morning. And what happened? It turned out that I absolutely forgot how to relax. I just did not know where to put the ton of precious time I received, all my hobbies and hobbies were covered with a thick layer of dust, and my friends too (figuratively speaking).

    Do you recognize yourself?

    Think about the fact that by giving all our time to work, we kill other very important aspects of our lives. And for what? It’s great if what you do really gives you pleasure (I, for example, adore my work), but still think that in addition to this very work, there is nothing left in your life. It happens that there’s nothing to talk about, other than their labor achievements.

    Let's take, for example, all of us beloved Google (oh, now I’m happy to “charge” a fly in the ointment into this all-praised barrel of high-tech honey). Who would not want to be in the company's offices, plunge into the whirlpool of modern technology and work hand in hand with young, bright, talented and full of energy people? Have you ever communicated with employees from the "corporation of good"? It's no secret that Google is very sensitive to its culture, one of the features of which is cohesion and, excuse me, partly herd - voluntarily-forcibly spend your free time in the company of colleagues (none of whom admit that they would prefer to do something else and in another company). So, a person who does not work on Google, it will be unbearably boring with googlers - they are practically unable to talk about anything other than what they do in offices. Verified by personal experience. Sorry guys, that's true.

    This is information for you to think about: no matter how much you love work, you need to take time to relax and develop yourself so that you do not feel like a calculator, unable to support other (other than working) conversation topics. What about a hobby? What about the family?

    No need to work MUCH

    I did not immediately realize that I was working so much to fill the vacuum inside myself. But it was akin to a black hole - no matter how much time I threw away, no matter how many tasks I could handle, it seemed to me that I could be more productive. Every freelancer and every entrepreneur knows that if you want to achieve a result, you need to work hard - until the seventh sweat. From childhood, our teachers, grandmothers and parents drive this into our heads, and employers and clients shake their heads approvingly (indeed!), And we believe that we must exhaust ourselves - otherwise we will not see success. And if we feel that we are not working to the fullest, then guilt instilled from childhood also begins to gnaw at us - the scourge of modern society. Stop and think, is this the path to the goal that you want to go?

    The paradox is that you don’t have to work hard, you have to work productively. During my studies, I was struck by one case: a computer graphics teacher noted that the best of my projects is the very first (which I generally considered a draft). In my amazed look, he replied: "It is not at all necessary to" work out "to achieve the best result."

    And now we are faced with a new problem: what needs to be done so as not to “work out” and have time to complete everything planned? The answers for each may be different, but I will share my own experience, and I really hope that it will help you find your perfect balance.

    Everything ingenious is simple

    Having decided to change my life and my approach to work, I set about searching for solutions. It was necessary to restructure their work process - not to work more or harder, but to work less and more productively. Feel the difference? Not harder, but more productive. Strange, but for some reason in our minds these words are so closely intertwined that they have almost become synonymous, although this is not at all the case.

    I tried several solutions, all of them eventually had to be “customized” for myself. And now I want to tell you about a very effective and at the same time simple method that I did not want to try for a long time precisely because of its flagrant primitiveness - it seemed to me that powerful solutions were needed for serious changes. Fortunately, I was wrong. This is the famous Pomodoro technique, about which many articles and treatises have been written.

    Pomodoro: what is it and what is it with?

    So, for a start, some lyrics. This simple method is based on four basic principles:

    1. Work with time, not against it. Technique offers a new look at time: not as an eternal “not working for us” enemy, but as an ally.
    2. Plan your vacation during work: short breaks in work help you maintain a supply for a longer time.
    3. Eliminate distractions: usually phone calls, mail, social networks and a lot of "urgent little things" may well wait without any harm to you and your discounts.
    4. There is no procrastination: work on the perfect balance of work and rest without torturing yourself with guilt caused by a waste of time and inefficient work.

    And now let's see what the algorithm for the successful operation of the Pomodoro technique is:

    1) Select a task.
    2) Set the timer for 25 minutes (I increased this time for myself to 45 minutes).
    3) We are focused on the task all the time and without distraction. As soon as the timer announces the end of the working period, with a sense of accomplishment, we tick off - one “tomato” is completed, we are great!
    4) We rest for 5 minutes (I have 15 minutes - so one cycle fits in an hour).
    5) Repeat steps 1-4 three more times, then rest 15 minutes.

    Easy, right?

    No, not as easy as it seems. Pomodoro offers us half an hour to work without distraction, fully focusing on a single task. No Facebook and gMail, no other “urgent” things - just you and the main task for this period of time. I want to warn you right away - it can be difficult with a habit.


    1. Try working with one tab in your browser. When I, for example, do a translation, then I have only Word open (as a rule) and a dictionary. Of course, sometimes you need to check some facts from the text or spelling of names - then Google and all kinds of dictionaries to help. But as soon as I find out what I needed, I immediately close all the extra tabs so that I wouldn’t accidentally “run into” interesting articles, news, etc.
    2. Ponder tasks in advance. Make simple tables (you can do the old-fashioned way on a piece of paper), where you will write down what tasks you must complete during each day. Do not write how much time you would like to spend on them, but in the process, simply check the boxes in front of each, where one tick is equal to one completed "tomato" cycle.

    SmartProgress and Pomodoro

    I have always believed that in building an ideal workflow it is necessary to actively use modern technologies and all kinds of benefits of civilization. No matter how good the Pomodoro technique is, in my opinion, it should be optimized for each person, and for more effective use it is necessary to stock up on additional tools. Nowadays, you will find many helpers who will protect your productivity and quiet work - from simple interactive calendars to smart watches and powerful web services. Therefore, pay attention to SmartProgress - a service that is designed to help you set both long-term and short-term goals. To get started, set a goal to reduce the number of working hours and gradually reduce the number of daily “tomatoes” - SmartProgresshelps you not to deviate from the course and achieve your goals. You will be surprised at how your projects “shrink”, taking much less time than before. And gradually reducing the number of daily work cycles, you will find that you no longer need to work 40 hours a week. In addition, thanks to the mentoring system and communication in the community, your motivation and sense of satisfaction with your own productivity will increase.

    And most importantly: everything is good in moderation

    In order not to find yourself in new networks, you can not get hung up on just one thing. Therefore, when you see that your productivity has doubled, for example, do not give this time to a new job - enjoy your vacation, chatting with family and friends. I realized that it is very important to set small goals - as a result, their achievement motivates you to do more. And this is much better than a feeling of persecution and fatigue, which leads to a task chosen with excessive optimism.

    Find the magic number of “tomatoes” per day. Try it today. Start with one, if you like it, then arrange tomorrow “tomato day”. This is amazing, but I used to spend a lot more time on work, because it was associated with many distracting factors that not only interfered with productivity, but they could not even be called a complete rest (staring at Pinterest or Facebook for half an hour? Eyes they are still tensed, the body is as tense as during work).

    Do not work 7 days a week. Make at least one full day off, preferably two. Come off to the fullest - this will help recharge your batteries. Change the scenery, go somewhere for a picnic, fishing, in the mountains (if any), in another city, in another country.

    Or just wallow all day on the TV, “chopped” into your favorite video games and eat all those sweets and “bads” that you have denied yourself all week. Tested on my own experience - all this is absolutely amazingly energizing and the desire to break through the thorns to the stars.


    Now in five hours I can cope with what would take me all day (10 hours, no less). Not a bad result, right? In fairness, it’s worth adding that, as you have already seen, I combed this technique a bit for myself. One work cycle lasts for one hour. During the working day, I rest for an hour or two. After work, I give all the time to my beloved spouse, numerous hobbies and reading. And at the end of the week we have a completely shameless weekend - down with working rationalism, only the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the new chapter of The Last of Us on PS4!

    SmartProgress - Achieving Goals

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