Words and Stuff

Co-Working and the Pomodoro Timer

September 8, 2022
 ·   · 
3 min read

As I transition from a life behind the wheel of a forklift to a life behind the computer, I've struggled to find ways to stay on task. One minute you're hard at work, and the next minute you're going down a rabbit hole of whatever. Enter Co-Working and the Pomodoro timer.

I'm not going to give a complete history of either of these concepts, just my personal experience. Let's start with Pomodoro.

Image of tomato on wooden surface.
Photo by Miguel á Padriñán


TL;DR: You pick a task. You set a timer for 25-minutes. You work on only that task for 25-minutes. When the timer goes off, you take a 5-minute break.

That 30-minute stretch is considered "One Pomodoro". Every four pomodoros, you swap out the 5-minute break for a 15-20 minute break.

Francesco Cirilo, who invented the technique, named it because the kitchen timer he used looked like a tomato. If you want to know a whole lot about it, you can buy Francesco Cirilo's 130-page book. I recommend this much shorter article from todoist

In Practice

When I use the Pomodoro technique in a co-working session, the general consensus is that 25-minutes is too short. The todoist article mentions a few alternatives. I'm kind of intrigued by the 52/17 split. Longer still is the 90/30 split.

When I do the Pomodoro technique on my own, I use the break time to absolutely get away from the computer. Somtimes it's just as far as laying down on the floor on top of an accupressure mat for 5-minutes while one and half songs play. When that timer goes off, I'm reinvigorated and ready to get back to my task.

There are also sorts of physical timers out there, but I've simply been using the website pomofocus.io. In a co-working session, I'll share that portion of the screen if I'm running a collective Pomodoro session. Also, in a co-working session, the more people who are present, the more likely we are to break a little longer than 5-minutes. I think that's okay, because the more people who are there, the more likely I am to stick around longer and tackle tasks. If my totaly productivity is greater for the day, it's a win.

Multiples pairs of hands working with computers and laptops


I was somewhat familiar with Pomodoro previous to my current work-life shift. However, the concept of co-working is still somewhat new to me. It probably means different things to different people, so these remarks will be limited to my experience.

Presently I'm a user on a few different Discord servers equipped with different co-working rooms. Some are strictly "heads down, no talking" rooms. I believe the idea is that just knowing someone else is there working, that you'll be inspired to do some work, too.

The co-working "rooms" I enjoy welcome some amount of conversation. Sometimes it's "heads down" until someone says something. Sometimes someone (like me) is running a Pomodoro timer and we talk during the breaks. I will admit to some hesitation when I first started using online co-working spaces, but it's been a good way to meet people while staying on task.

My preference is to either run a Pomodoro timer, or to share my whole screen. By choosing to share my screen, I know at any point someone can call me out for what I'm working on. "Why are you looking at used Mustangs on eBay? Are you buying a car?" I know that no one is intently looking at my screen in any one moment, but the idea that they could be watching me keeps me on task. It's a kind of voluntary surveilance. If I have to switch my clothes from the washer to the dryer, I might put a note on my screen that I'll be back shortly.

Join Me!

I put this page together because it has become a Freqently Asked Question when people are making my acquaintance for the first time. "I see you in those co-working rooms. What is that about!?"

Now you know. Stop on in and say, "Hey".

Tagged: co-working · discord · pomodoro

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