GTD + Pomodoro

I was using the Pomodoro technique at work yesterday and I was surprised at how focussed I remained through the entire day and wasted minimal amounts of time. I am wondering if anyone has evolved their own system for using the Pomodoro technique along with GTD and maybe with a bit of Covey prioritization thrown in? Thanks

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Working the tomato

That's actually a good description of what I do, now that I think on it, plus I have a healthy dose of both Mark Foster's Autofocus, the FlyLady, and some "Now Habit" (Neil Fiore) planning. I refer to using the Pomodor Technique as "working the tomato."

Although she originally started out with addressing housework, one of the FlyLady mantras is "anyone can do anything for 15 minutes." Most of her techniques for addressing backlogs are intended for use in 15 minute increments. I've been using both FlyLady and Pomodoro methods to push through procrastination and backlogs on most fronts for several years. I found an app called "instant boss" that I use on my workstation at the office, to keep me on track.

The Now Habit and other productivity methods advocate the use of time logs and time mapping to create what is essentially a strategic plan for actually doing things - what appointments to make with yourself, in a sense. These blocks of time are used for accomplishing CATEGORIES of tasks, rather than focusing on the task items themselves. I use a combination of Covey, GTD and Foster (Autofocus) for the task management process. The FlyLady approach addresses routine and recurring tasks (note: when tasks are routine, recurring and unpleasant, we tend to call them "chores!").

I do a Weekly Review (GTD) at home and at work (sometimes together, sometimes separately), update all of my lists, and ID what I have to do, want to do, and can get done realistically. I classify the individual tasks using the Covey and GTD methods, (Urgent, important, home, office, email, errand, etc.). I also update my project lists, and "sharpen the saw" onto my "Harmony" page.

Using the FlyLady/Fiore techniques, I've already identified specific days on which I will do certain types of tasks each week, and have scheduled those into my day (or, at least, penciled them in). For instance, Tuesday is $$ day - at work, that means submitting time reports, leave requests, updating my performance evaluations, or dealing with HR about compensation issues. If I have to make a personal business call, I usually try to do that during the same period. At home, that may include paying bills, researching investments, or filing claims for medical insurance. The specific tasks out of the lists that were scrubbed during the last Weekly Review, and my scheduled, FlyLady chore chart. I usually target up to 3 tasks.

For $$ day, I have two hours blocked out on my Tuesday calendar: one during the workday, the other in the evening. On my calendar, each “appointment” says "Work the Tomato - $$$". I turn on my timer and go to town. If I miss a week, or have less than an hour to use, that’s ok – I’ve learned that I can trust my system to make sure that the important things don't slip.

Maybe more detail than you wanted, but I hope it helps.


thanks- this was really helpful. And am aware of Fiore, GTD, Pomodoro & Covey, but am not familiar with Flylady. But from what you have described above, I think the combination will work very well for me too and I can't wait to implement the system to get on top of all my stuff! thanks very much again


shirana- saw flylady + autofocus

I just checked out the Flylady and Autofocus systems, and I love the way Flylady dovetails well with 'working the tomato' [i like that name :-)] and Autofocus does the same with GTD. My main prob with GTD is the prioritization issue which Autofocus4 should take care of.

So here's what my system is going to be like:
- My daily routine needs to be clearly spelt out so that I can incorporate some chores systematically like in the Flylady system (I also loved the before bed and after waking up segments apart from the 15 min back and forth system). This has been my main issue because of which all admin work at work as well at home just keeps piling up
- Evolve a GTD / Autofocus combo system mainly for recording Backlog and the Active Projects as well as evolving Next Actions
- Continue to follow my weekly review system, like you, both at work and at home, by which I also prioritize the next week's stuff and review the Backlog/Active Projects lists
- "Work the tomato" for actually getting things done at work (since am in the legal profession, the pomodoro of 25 mins works better for me at work); at home follow the flylady technique of 15 mins of swinging between two zones or two chores.

So excited! will post here to report back on the progress- thanks


Another fly in the mix?

Wow - you've inspired me. . .I don't think that I've conciously thought about using Autofocus as a tool to clear backlogs - i.e., treat backlogs as their own distinct or unique projects, rather than just keep those activities out of my face where they will depress or overwhelm me. That could be right on time. Since the holiday season started, my Autofocus list has been becoming one giant Someday/Maybe. . .

I've been playing around with Remember the Milk. The FlyLady recently has worked out an arrangement with Cozi-dot-com, which creasts a kind of Outlook for families, with a calendar, to do list, shopping and grocery lists, etc. It syncs with both Outloook and Google, among other apps.

Since my family is just me (at it relates to "home"), however, I thought I'm trying out some other options, too. I'd read about Remember the Milk a while ago, and I'm trying to use it to manage both my Fly-list (with recurring transactions) and my Autofocus lists. It's not quite working as well as I'd hoped.

Are you using paper or electronic methods for your system? How are they working?

Cozi / FLYlady

I've been getting the calendar reminder e-mails from the Cozi/Flylady system for a few weeks and I must say, it's not all that I had hoped. I entered stuff in manually and it was too inflexible for a lot of my routine appts that happen for 9 or 10 weeks during term time, break for 2 then start again. So I have been ignoring them.
I did not download the Outlook synchroniser for Cozi as I find that 3rd party add-ons tend to add to my problems with Outlook.
I gather Cozi is really designed to be used with a smartphone so maybe one day when gadgets are as good as paper planners (if only iPads could run a version of the old Lotus Organizer 98 that I used to run on Windows XP ...)
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Thanks Shirana
Currently I am using a paperbased system for my method as I find it somehow more comfortable. I use a junior Circa as my planner and apart from general notes section have the following tabs/classifications:

Activity Inventory- where I record all the new work pouring in as they come in;

Backlog Inventory- this is the complete list of all the backlog items and I was stunned to see how large my backlog was in various areas of life;

Projects- this is not really required, but I find it convenient during doing my weekly review to quickly select what I should work on- this categorises both my backlog + my activity inventory contents under different heads (like Work and further sub-classes under Work; Errands/Organization; Home (am mostly by myself at home too); and Personal Projects (which are mainly in the nature of hobbies etc)

Next Actions- this I maintain only for complex work or organization/personal/home/projects - otherwise I find listing Next Actions too timeconsuming to be effective.

One thing that is becoming problematic in working with my current system i.e. executing with Pomodoro or giving the 25 min continuous focussed time on a single issue, is the constant spate of calls and drop-ins that I am facing. I am in my old job in a slightly new role, so am hoping this would be temporary. As far as planning and organizing is concerned, coupled with a weekly review, I have all my bases covered, so no discomfort there.

The other thing is I seem to be working from 8.30am to 8pm as a result have little energy left when I get home to actually attend to one section of the house; so very often it is spilling over to the weekend when I can actually catch up on my home stuff and errands. I wish I can work out a way to keep my energy levels up so that I can actually proceed the Flylady way. Also working the long hours is resulting in not being able to actually get around to clearing the backlog. In my new expanded role, working lesser hours is not an option in the next two months at least. But starting the new year, I have given myself two months to clear my backlog, even if I have to kill myself trying to balance everything- otherwise having the backlog list is a constant uncomfortable reminder:-D


You *are* workin' it.

It's useful to hear about your mixed approach. That's where I'm headed. I need structure that works.

Just downloaded Instant Boss. It's functional, and that's the goal. Thanks for the tip.

If anyone has another favorite timer please share the link :)
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
- Albert E.

Fave Timer

I love Online Stopwatch. It won't work in my straitjacketed FireFox install though.
But works fine on IE.
My kids particularly like the old fashioned Submarine Dive Alert sound you can get on the custom countdown timer. It really gets them moving in the morning!
www DOT online DASH stopwatch DOT com
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Here's a Tomato Timer...

Focus Booster, a simple Pomodoro adjustable timer. It's purty.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
- Albert E.

just downloaded

Just downloaded focus booster- it's perfect; had downloaded instant boss also but this is even better. thanks for the tip


Online Focus

Trying out the online version today. The ticking sound is really annoying, so I was glad to be able to turn that off.

I espeically like that there IS no download required. Most of my IT guys like me and trust me, but there are generally pretty tight limits around addings software onto office workstations.

Thanks for the tip!

Thanks for the tip

Very nice share, thank you.