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Rohov Dmytro
Rohov Dmytro

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

How Failing With Pomodoro Technique Made Me 2x Better Programmer

Trying to make Pomodoro Technique work for me started with struggling. But that taught me a lot! And eventually led to building great habits around coding, journaling, eating healthier and many-many more. Surprisingly, but Pomodoro even muscled me up! These topics are what I am covering in my Pomodoro Series. You can check them out to steal my experience.

For now I am going to share my first experience following the Pomodoro Technique. And in the beginning it was not great. At all.

My shortened list of struggles with Pomodoro

Struggle to stop

The main problem was to stop whatever I was doing. «Hey, I'm in the middle of something! How on Earth I should make a break if I am trying to focus?». It did not felt right to make a break while being in the middle of doing something. The break was the enemy. Doing a break was perceived as a waste of time.

Hard to continue

I felt like I was loosing momentum. Picking up after a break was messy and resourceful.

No positive affirmation

25 minutes has passed but I did not feel any productivity. It seemed to me like I was following the rules but the end result was not that rewarding. Speaking precisely, in stead of feeling more productive and satisfied I felt more like annoyed.

What I was doing wrong?

Why I was failing with Pomodoro

So my implementation of Pomodoro Technique is buggy. Let's debug it! And here is a break point I've started from:

My process of coding is too sensitive to pauses.

Well, hmmm, okay. But... why? Fast forward dozens of broken pomodoros and here is the answer.

Task switching is the problem

I was focusing on a specific task but still managed to jump all around between micro tasks making the process chaotic. All those tiny things were indeed connected with the main goal but jumping all around them was tricky to notice.

Task switching, or set-shifting, is an executive function that involves the ability to unconsciously shift attention between one task and another.

The dangerous part is that it happens unconsciously.

I could start with one thing, then switch to another one (very related), then switch again and again while not finishing any of them. But after ten of those switches I ended up with a thing barely connected to the initial task.

For years this «feature» of mine was unnoticed. Sad! But true.

And it turned out to be a very valuable piece of self-observation. Now I will share what I came out with to deal with it.

How to Stop Task Switching — My Small Habit With Big Benefits

Beware — it may sound silly! But in order to fix a problem with pomodoro breaks all I had to do was... interrupt my switches! Breaking the breaks with more breaks!

Let me unconfuse you.

Constantly asking myself what the hell am I doing, literally. And actually answer.

This trick helped me to catch myself switching from one task to another, forced me to articulate current goals and keeped me more focused.


Basically I was breaking a bad habit of task switching.


As the result my process of coding became much more «pausable». I can take a break and have a much more clear understanding where am I in the process. This clarity leads to understanding not only what am I doing but what I've actually done. Also after a Pomodoro break I can much more easily restore the context and continue nailing it.


Hey! I've wrote just 5% from what I want to share! Please, do subscribe to my blog to not miss good stuff. And follow me on twitter!

And what was your first experience with Pomodoro Technique?

Top comments (12)

jeremiahware profile image
Jeremiah Ware

I struggled with Pom for dev as well at first. Did great for entrepreneurial, self improvement tasks. So I tried 50 minute poms with 10 minute break for awhile.

What really helped me resolve my failures was to keep to TDD while doing 25 minute Poms. It allowed me to keep focused as I tried to get from failing test to passing tests, while also give me a clear place to come back to. If I finish a full test in a single Pom. Then I moved on to the next test after the break. If not, I could take my break and knew exactly what I needed to accomplish when I came back.

And I did interrupt myself a lot, like you suggest. That was helpful.

rohovdmytro profile image
Rohov Dmytro

Wow! TDD is a nice way to express similar idea for focusing! It also keep you on track. Cool!

Thanks for sharing.

officialajsmith profile image
Anthony Wayne Smith (AJ)

I have heard of this technique, but have yet to start using it. I've been doing 100 Days of Code to try and get myself in to the habit of learning code or practice what I know already. During this on going journey I have found that I jump around a lot and do not focus on any set projects. Full disclosure, I'm also new to web development. So I look forward to seeing more information about this technique. Any advice I can find is always nice.

hamsterasesino profile image

My big problem with the Pomodoro Technique is that sometimes I need to do tasks that keep me idle for a long time - like compiling my Java server or installing dependencies.

So I kept finding myself spending easily 5 minutes every Pomodoro doing.. nothing. And then it was break time.

rohovdmytro profile image
Rohov Dmytro

You remind me about this type of experience — when the break feels unjustified after waiting (the compiler etc).

mebble profile image
Neil Syiemlieh

I also feel like I've lost momentum after a pomodoro break. I really like the idea of intentionally interrupting to check yourself

rohovdmytro profile image
Rohov Dmytro

Keeping the Momentum is a big topic for me.

chiangs profile image
Stephen Chiang • Edited

Exactly. I've given up the technique so many times because I hate losing the momentum. But you are right, it's most likely due to task switching / focus creeping.

I think I'll try it again... Just found this Pomodoro VS Code extension

Thread Thread
rohovdmytro profile image
Rohov Dmytro

Nice extension. I do you Google Assistant for my timers. It's extremely convinient for me.

hkievet profile image
hkievet • Edited

I didn't know what Pomodoro Technique was and this article could spend a paragraph at the top defining it or linking out to a resource to learn about it 🤷‍♂️

Thank you, however, for bringing to me an awareness of the existence of this technique.

rohovdmytro profile image
Rohov Dmytro

You point is totally valid! Thanks for putting link in the comment section!

chuckwood profile image
Charles Wood

Holy cow, this is my exact experience with pom! Only I haven't done the debugging part yet. This is a great insight, thanks for sharing it!