This is probably my #1 productivity app next to my task list. In fact, I would almost say, having this is more important than having a task list, because I actually use this when I’m creating that list.
In Episode 2 I talked about using the Pomodoro technique for increasing your productivity. This is where you work with intense focus for a specific time (I use 25 minutes) and then you take a intentional break for a short time (I use 5 minutes). After doing this for 4 cycles, you take a much longer break (again, for me, 20 minutes) and then you start over again.
I have a few apps you can use for this that will really help you manage your Pomodoro technique if you want to give it a shot.
I’ll go over the one I’ve been using for quite some time and I’ll mention a few others that may work better for you.
This is available on iOS devices only, but it does work on both the iPhone, iPod and iPad. I’ll give you some recommendations for Androids too, so don’t worry.
Focus Time is NOT a free app, it costs $4.99 but I can tell you, without a doubt, it’s well worth it. Simple… but the outcome is worth the cost.
Focus time has been incredibly clean and easy to use but still affords a lot of flexibility. You can set each one of your times to work perfectly for you. For example, a lot of Pomodoro users will do a 50, 10, 30 system, meaning 50 minutes of focus, a 10 minute break and every 4 cycles you take a 30 minute break.
I went to a shorter time window because I found, when going for 50 minutes, I would catch myself looking at the timer to see how long I had before the break. I wanted to get lost in my work, so I shifted down to 25 minutes. I know my weaknesses and I’ve adapted to work with them. You may be able to do the 50 minute system. Give it a try first.
Another great feature that’s just been added with Focus Time is the ability to attach a specific task to a Pomodoro focus window. This works great for specific task management. This was just added and I’ve only started to use this feature.
Focus Time also runs completely in the background so you can turn your phone or ipad off and set it down. It will alert you when the time is up. It will also use Push notifications that pop up when each cycle is complete.
Every focused work cycle you complete it gives you a star. I set daily star goals which can sometimes help me squeeze in one more focus round in order to stretch to reach my goal.
You can also turn your into Landscape mode and see a graph showing your productivity.
Some people have found that the sound of a ticking clock can help keep them focused. It’s a constant reminder that you need to stay on task but hopefully something that’s quiet and won’t become intrusive. I tried it and found I worked better without it, but you may be different.
So, if you have a iDevice, I strongly recommend the Focus Time app. You can download Focus Time here.
Again, Focus Time is $4.99 in the App Store. If you’re looking for something simple, easy and free, there are apps available. One in particular that cuts right to the chase is called “Simple Pomodoro Timer.” Again, it’s free.
If you’re on an Android device, there are a couple of apps which are rated very highly.
Pomodroido – Just like Focus Time, this app will allow you to customize your focus and break cycles to a system that works best for you. It’s highly rated in the Google Play app store and they are working on some updates to include task integration as well as analytics and achievement records.
The other Android app that many like using is Pomodoro Tracker by Entropy Software.
This app includes the standard Pomodoro capabilities but also specific task tracking, as well as broader category tracking. It will keep a historical record and analytics of what you’re getting done.
It’s a great app and like Pomodroido, it’s free in the Google Play App store.
Of course, if you’re a low tech person, there is always the original Pomodoro technique using a basic kitchen timer that you just set for each cycle.
Trust me.. there are SO many available, you just need to find something that works for you and put it into use….