Archive for the 'Overlearning' Category

Literary References in the New Book

kina-133As you may or may not know, I’m writing a sequel to the 200K+ bestseller Pomodoro Technique Illustrated. I’ve written 1/3 in two months’ time.

Maybe you can guess the subject matter from the working title Productive People. Other hints are the references I’ve done so far in the text:

  • Amabile, Teresa M. et al. – Time Pressure And Creativity In Organizations: A Longitudinal Field Study, Harvard Business School, 2002.
  • Anokhin P.K. – The forming of natural and artificial intelligence, Impact of Science on Society, 23, 3, 195-212, Jul-Sep 1973.
  • Ariely, Dan, Wertenbroch, Klaus – Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment, Psychological Science May 2002 vol. 13 no. 3 219-224.
  • Aristotle – Rhetoric, Courier Corporation, 2012.
  • Aronson and Mills – The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59, 177-181, 1959.
  • Atay S, Karabacak Ü. – Care plans using concept maps and their effects on the critical thinking dispositions of nursing students, International Journal of Nursing Practice, 18:233–239, 2012.
  • Atchley, Ruth Ann, Strayer, David L., Atchley, Paul – Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings, Journal PLOS ONE, December 12, 2012.
  • Barker, Alan – How to Solve Almost Any Problem: Turning Tricky Problems Into Wise Decisons, Pearson, 2012.
  • Beck, D. M. & Kastner, S. – Top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in biasing competition in the human brain, Vision Research, 2008.
  • Beilock, Sian L. and Carr, Thomas H. – On the Fragility of Skilled Performance: What Governs Choking Under Pressure?, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Vol. 130. No. 4. 701-725, 2001.
  • Bengtsson, Christina – Konsten att fokusera: 10.9, Volante, 2015
  • Brann, Amy – Make Your Brain Work: How to Maximize Your Efficiency, Productivity and Effectiveness, Kogan Page, 2013.
  • Brooks, Frederick P. – The mythical man-month: essays on software engineering, Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1975.
  • Buzan, Tony, Buzan, Barry – The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential, Dutton, 1993.
  • Černe, Matej, Nerstad, Christina G. L., Dysvik, Anders, Škerlavaj, Miha – What Goes Around Comes Around: Knowledge Hiding, Perceived Motivational Climate, and Creativity, Academy of Management Journal, 2014, Vol. 57, No. 1, 172–192.
  • Coan, James A., Schaefer, Hillary S., and Davidson, Richard J. – Lending a Hand: Social Regulation of the Neural Response to Threat Psychological, Science, December 2006 17: 1032-1039.
  • Cobham, Alan – Priority Assignment in Waiting Line Problems, Operations Research 2: 70–76, 1954.
  • Covey, Stephen R. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster, 1989.
  • De Bono, Edward – De Bono’s Thinking Course, Pearson Education, 2006.
  • De Bono, Edward – Six Action Shoes, HarperCollins Canada, Limited, 1991.
  • DeDonno, Michael A. and Demaree, Heath A. – Perceived time pressure and the Iowa Gambling Task, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 3, No. 8, December 2008, pp. 636–640.
  • Doran, G. T. – There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives, Management Review (AMA FORUM) 70 (11) 35–36, 1981.
  • Duhigg, Charles – The Power of Habit, Random House, 2012.
  • Dunne, Keiran J., Dunne, Elena S. – Translation and Localization Project Management: The art of the possible, John Benjamins Publishing, 2011.
  • Durant, Will – The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Great Philosophers, Pocket Books, 1976.
  • Eisenhower, Dwight D. – The American Presidency Project, Speech number: 204, Title: Address at the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Location: Evanston, Illinois, Date: August 19, 1954.
  • Farrand, P., Hussain, F. and Hennessy E. – The efficacy of the ‘mind map’ study technique, Medical Education, Vol. 36 (5), pp 426-431, 2002.
  • Fast, Nathanael J., Tiedens, Larissa Z. – Blame contagion: The automatic transmission of self-serving attributions, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 46 (2010) 97–106.
  • Festinger, Leon – A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Row, Peterson, 1957.
  • Forster, Mark – Secrets of Productive People: 50 Techniques To Get Things Done: Teach Yourself, Hachette UK, 2015.
  • Gladstones, William H., Regan, Michael A., and Leeb, Robert B. – Division of attention: The single-channel hypothesis revisited, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A: Human Experimental Psychology, Volume 41, Issue 1, 1989.
  • Godin, Seth – The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You when to Quit (and when to Stick), Portfolio, 2007.
  • Goleman, Daniel – Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ, Bloomsbury, 1996.
  • Greist-Bousquet, S., Schiffman, N. – The effect of Task interruption and closure on perceived duration. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30(1), 9-11, 1992.
  • Hamer M, Chida Y. – Physical activity and risk of neurodegenerative disease: a systematic review of prospective evidence, Psychological Medicine, Jan, 39, 2009.
  • Heinrichs, Jay – Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion, Three Rivers Press, 2007.
  • Hobbs, Charles R.  – Time Power, Harper & Row, 1987.
  • Hogue, W. Dickerson – What does priority mean?, Business Horizons, Volume 13, Issue 6, December 1970, Pages 35-36.
  • Hummel, Charles E. – Tyranny of the Urgent, Inter-Varsity Press, 1967.
  • Johnson, P.B., Mehrabian, A., Weiner, B. – Achievement Motivation and the Recall of Incompleted and Completed Exam Questions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 59(3), 181-185, 1968.
  • Jönsson, Bodil – Tio år senare: tio tankar om tid, Brombergs, 2009.
  • Jönsson, Bodil – Unwinding the Clock: 10 Thoughts on Our Relationship to Time, Harcourt, 2001.
  • Keller, Gary – The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results, Hachette UK, 2013.
  • Lakein, Alan – How to get control of your time and your life, New American Library, 1974.
  • Lally, Phillippa, van Jaarsveld, Cornelia H. M., Potts, Henry W. W. and Wardle, Jane – How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world, European Journal of Social Psychology, Volume 40, Issue 6, pages 998–1009, October 2010.
  • Little, J. D. C. – A Proof for the Queuing Formula: L = λW. Operations Research 9 (3): 383–387, 1961.
  • Loprinzia, Paul D. , Cardinalb, Bradley J. – Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, Mental Health and Physical Activity, Volume 4, Issue 2, December 2011, Pages 65–69.
  • Maltz, Maxwell – Psychocybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life, Wilshire Book Company, 1976.
  • McKeown, Greg – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Random House, 2014.
  • Mittone, Luigi and Savadori, Lucia – The Scarcity Bias, Applied Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 3, pages 453–468, July 2009.
  • Ohno, Taiichi – Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, CRC Press, 1988.
  • Oncken Jr , William and Wass, Donald L. – Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?, Harvard Business Review, November–December 1974 Issue.
  • Parkinson, Cyril Northcote – Parkinson’s Law, The Economist, November 19 1955.
  • Pink, Daniel H. – Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us, Riverhead Books, 2009.
  • Poppendieck, Mary, Poppendieck, Tom – Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash, Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006.
  • Sanders, Jeff – The 5 A.M. Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast, Ulysses Press, 2015
  • Sohlberg, McKay Moore, Mateer, Catherine A. – Introduction to Cognitive Rehabilitation: Theory and Practice, Guilford Press, 1989.
  • Surowiecki, James – The Wisdom of Crowds, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2005.
  • The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies, Series 2 – Volume 7, Government Printing Office, 1899.
  • Tracy, Brian – Eat that Frog!, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2001
  • Vohs, Kathleen D., Redden, Joseph P., and Rahinel, Ryan, Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity, Psychological Science 24(9) 1860–1867.
  • Wilson, Timothy D.; Gilbert, Daniel T. – Affective Forecasting: Knowing What to Want, Current Directions in Psychological Science 14 (3): 131–134, June 2005.
  • Wiseman, Richard – The Luck Factor, Arrow, 2004.
  • Zeigarnik, Bluma – Das Behalten erledigter und unerledigter Handlungen. Psychologische Forschung 9, 1-85, 1927.

Bibliography from Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

There are many references in Pomodoro Technique Illustrated. Below is a list of the books in the bibliography linked to Amazon. In a future post I will also put links to the referred articles and web sites.

How many of these have you read? Do you have any recommended reading for me?

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

Colophon of Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

Recurrently, I’m asked about what tools I used to create the book Pomodoro Technique Illustrated. A colophon is a brief description describing production notes relevant to a edition of a book.

Here’s the Colophon of Pomodoro Technique Illustrated:

I made the drawings in an A6, top spiral, 80 sheets pad from Esselte. The pad is Nordic Swan environmentally labeled and the sheets has 5×5 mm squares, no holes, and wood free 60 gr/m2 paper.

I did the pencil drawings with a BIC Matic mechanical pencil with 0.7 mm HB leads. Then I added water color from a Color & Co paint set filled with 6 tempera blocks in Size 2 (Ø 57 mm and altitude 19 mm) and in the following colors: Gold Yellow, Carmine, Ultramarine, Brilliant Green, Black and White. Finally, I scanned them with a HP Photosmart 1200 Photo Scanner in 300 dpi, 24-bit color.

The spiral pad, the mechanical pencil, the watercolor paint set and the photo scanner are all inexpensive, simple tools. I’m convinced that the content, the ideas and the way something is explained is more important than the quality, the sophistication, and the price of the tools.

In the running text, I use Goudy Old Style, a serif typeface originally created by Frederic W. Goudy in 1916. Headlines have Franklin Gothic, a sans-serif typeface designed by Morris Fuller Benton in 1902 and probably named after Benjamin Franklin.

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Pomodoro Technique® in 5 minutes

You don’t have a single clue about the stem leafs and ketchup of The Pomodoro Technique® (created by Francesco Cirillo) — but you like agile software development and you do have five minutes to spend on a general introduction? Read how I implemented this methodology in the following Pomodoro Technique® for dummies recipe.

  1. Pencil
  2. Kitchen timer
  3. To Do Today Sheet — today’s date, my name and a list of my activities planned for today
  4. Activity Inventory Sheet — my name and a unordered list of my upcoming activities in the near future
  5. Records Sheet — my sampled process metrics to be used for my process improvement

One Pomodoro Technique® day

  1. Planning — I start the day by extracting the most important activities from the Activity Inventory Sheet and write them in a list on my To Do Today Sheet
  2. Tracking — after every 25 minutes iteration (a.k.a. a Pomodoro) I collect a small amount of process metrics
  3. Recording — at the end of the day I assemble my daily observations on the Records Sheet
  4. Processing — after recording I renovate the raw data into information
  5. Visualizing — finally I present the information in a way that helps me to improve my process

One Pomodoro iteration

I start my Pomodoro iteration by choosing the most important activity from the To Do Today Sheet. If only one thing will be accomplished today, then I want it to be this particular activity. Next I wind up my kitchen timer to 25 minutes and start working on the selected activity.

When the kitchen timer rings, it means that I have completed one Pomodoro. I immediately mark an X next to the activity on my To Do Today Sheet and then take a break. For 3-5 minutes I totally detach from the activity and everything else mental challenging. I might drink water or dream about what to eat for dinner tonight. I take a 15-30 minute break every four Pomodoro iterations. The long break isn’t used for work or mental activity either.

After a break I decide if I should continue with the same activity or switch to another one. The switch could have been initiated by either a change in priorities or else by the simple fact that I have completed the last activity — it’s done.

I never switch activity in the middle of a Pomodoro iteration. If I’m done with an activity half through a Pomodoro, then I overlearn: I repeat what I have done, I review my results, and I note what I have learnt – until the kitchen timer rings.

Deal with interruptions

Interruptions during a Pomodoro iteration come in two flavours:

  1. Internal interruptions: I feel hungry, I realize that my current activity has sub activities, I need to make a phone call, or I have an outstanding question to my room neighbour – whatever it is: I don’t do it now! I note it on the To Do Today Sheet and then immediately continue with the interrupted activity. I never switch activity during a Pomodoro iteration.
  2. External Interruptions: Someone’s calling me, my room neighbour is asking me a question, or my e-mail program constantly beeps – whatever it is: I don’t do it now! I inform the other person that I’m in the middle of something, I negotiate when I can call back, I note it on the To Do Today Sheet, and then I call back later. I never switch activity during a Pomodoro iteration.

Problems solved

  • Regulating complexity — Activities are broken down. They are not allowed to last more than seven Pomodoro iterations. And working hard for 25 minutes is the result. I don’t need to think about the complete solution upfront.
  • Inverting the dependency on time — Anxiety about not being done before some point of time is eliminated with Pomodoro Technique®. One completed Pomodoro is the result. One more X marked next to the activity proves that I’m climbing higher. And the systematic reducing of interruptions gives me the opportunity to plan what used to be event driven actions.
  • Detaching — Recurrent mental breaks make me focused when I’m working. After a break I come back with new eyes, ready to see the whole picture.
  • Feedback and improving process — The easy metrics are tracked every 30 minutes and recorded at the end of the day. This is the decision point for improving my process. I want to identify what Lean Software Development calls waste.
  • Sustainable Pace — Short iterations maintains my motivation. Small breaks let me re-interpret the activity. Interruption elimination keeps me focused. Process improvement takes away demoralizing waste.
  • Decision awareness — The human brain is not optimized for multi tasking. During a Pomodoro I focus on the activity. Before a Pomodoro I select the most important activity on the To Do Today Sheet. In the morning I choose the most important activities from the Activity Inventory. At the end of the day I look for process improvements. These are important things that will be done frequently, but not in a mixed mess.

Pomodoro Technique® practices not mentioned here

This is just a short introduction. Read more about the full process in my book “Pomodoro Technique Illustrated”. Some Pomodoro Technique® practices explained there, but not here, are:

  • Activity effort estimation
  • Processing and visualizing process metrics
  • Ring anxiety
  • Optimizing the structure of the Pomodoros
  • Pomodoro length (25 minutes) and sound
  • Timetables

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

Additional facts

  • According to FAOSTAT, 125 million tonnes of tomatoes are produced in the world in one year. China is the top producer, accounting for about one-fourth of the global output followed by USA (9%), Turkey (8%), India (6%), and Egypt (6%).
  • United States Patent 4070820 is a double kitchen timer: a spring driven timer with primary and secondary time selection knobs rotating on a common center. Orest and Barbara Lewinter invented this killer app already in the seventies.
  • Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines overlearning as “to continue to study or practice after attaining proficiency”. Personally I see it as: practise your martial arts kata until you master it, then practice it two more times.
  • According to Petroski the system of pencil hardness might have been developed in the early 1900s by Brookman which used “B” for black and “H” for hard. A pencil’s category was described by a chain of Hs or Bs, e.g. BB and BBB for successively softer leads, and HH and HHH for successively harder ones.

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