Am I supposed to focus now?

Do you have trouble remembering if you’re in a Pomodoro or not? If you use a mechanical kitchen timer, the ticking sound will remind you. But what if you work in a no-sounds-allowed office?

This is actually a very common problem. Even if you can’t have the ticking sound and the mechanical timer, I do believe that gestures are important. They help your brain to make the transition from free time to focus time and back.

You may put your cell phone on the desk every time you start a Pomodoro and remove it when you end. Or even simpler: take a business card and color it green on the backside with a felt-tip pen. Put the card on your desk. Every time you start a Pomodoro, turn the green side up. Every time you end a Pomodoro, turn the green side down.

  • You can see the card/phone while you’re in a Pomodoro. It reminds you that it’s focus time.
  • The gestures of turning the card will—after a while—be associated with starting and ending a Pomodoro.

Pomodoro Technique Illustrated -- New book from The Pragmatic Programmers, LLC


4 Responses to “Am I supposed to focus now?”

  1. 1 boardtc 2010-02-18 at 14.01

    I have been using Pomotime and the visible timer on the screen works for me.

  2. 2 Kristian Dupont 2010-03-31 at 19.10

    This was the reason why I started developing what is now CherryTomato ( – I wanted to hear the ticking sound, but in my headphones so it wouldn’t bother anybody.

    What I didn’t think of was that this also cost me the ability for my peers to know when I am in pomodoro or not. Thus, I bought a USB lamp, put it on top of my monitor and wrote a plugin for it. Now, it turns red when I am in pomodoro and people will know not to bother me. Yes, I am a geek :-)

  3. 3 Staffan Nöteberg 2010-04-3 at 19.55

    Yes Kristian, you probably are a geek :-)

  4. 4 boardtc 2010-04-3 at 21.55

    Kristian, the usb lamp is awesome! I want it in PomoTime now!

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