Maintaining momentum between pomodoros

Dang, that sounds really valuable, but how do you track that? I feel like I’m too scatterbrained to reliably toggle a timer between working/not-working. Almost by definition I can’t, if I’m getting distracted. That was the impetus for TagTime of course, and I think your system could be used with TagTime but TagTime sampling every 45 minutes on average takes something like a week to give accurate estimates.

(Now I’m thinking about whether, while doing focused work, you could bump up TagTime’s sampling frequency to be every few minutes. It can be very low friction to answer those with a double quote character (the “ditto” symbol) to confirm that you’re still on task. Or maybe we want a physical device that lights up on the Poisson schedule and you tap it to confirm you’re working or just don’t tap it, if you’re not. That would yield your work efficiency metric in a way that’s robust to distraction and pretty truly frictionless. Intrigued-face.)

I have several cognitive strategies I teach for taking good breaks, the easiest one that seems to really resonate with people is to simply hold the question “What does my body need right now?” and allow your body to bring you to what you need during the break. Then, simply allow your body to bring you back to the next pomodoro session when the break feels complete.


Well, I “clock in” and “clock out” (that’s Emacs Org-mode jargon for starting and stopping the time tracking). I just trained myself to do that. The facts that it’s simple to do (press f10 twice to clock in on the last clocked task; press f10 o to clock out; press f10 c to choose one of the last 144 tasks to clock in, with autocompletion; also, I have nothing (or nothing important) bound to f9 and f11) and that I seldom leave Emacs help.


That’s a nice workflow, especially if you spend most of your time in Emacs anyway.

I often think that time tracking and other productivity related functionality should be a primary feature of the OS, or at least the window manager. Thinks Focus WM, wouldn’t that be cool?

  • Whenever you unlock the screen, you first have to specify what you are going to work on and for how long.
  • It uses machine learning to predict what you are going to do and for how long. That combined with fuzzy search makes the initial selection quick and low friction.
  • Of course, it also takes your task list into consideration and knows what tools you need for a specific task.
  • You can tag work session after the session and the data is then used to track in real-time how well you are doing in future sessions. If it goes bad, the WM gives you a warning, minimizes the program, or locks the screen in the worst case.
  • It also hides images on Twitter and LinkedIn and uses a NN to detect people with a lot of uncovered skin or curves because that is one of my biggest failure modes, somehow.
  • Of course, there is first class integration with Beeminder, FocusMate, and Amazing Marvin.
  • Efficiency as explained by you could be visualized on the desktop or menu bar.
  • It has built-in gamification by allowing you to trade work credits into doomscroll-Twitter/Reddit-time. When your time is over you get kicked out.
  • It synchronizes with a blocker tool on Android so that you cannot slack off on your phone instead.
  • It is protected via a time-lock and the only way to work around it is a boot stick.

Yeah, that would be nice. I am gonna build it one day.


[I’m here from the beemail that asked if we would use an app like this.]

Here’s what I would love: an additional mode for the timer in the Beeminder iOS app that did TagTime-like pings and also required that I tap yes appropriately to actually get the points for the time spent. It should have a configurable ping rate per launch so that I can adjust it based on how much I need to do, how much time I have, and how I currently feel about having to respond to pings. Less important, but bonus points if it can alert me from the background in the rare case that there’s an on-task thing that involves using my phone (this is a trivial percentage of things I would currently use it for, but could matter for some other things it could be used for).


So that was my first thought, but now I think I don’t actually need it to connect to beeminder.

Here’s what I did today: I set up with a 5m rate in a browser window that I left underneath other windows. Whenever I heard the sound and I was on task, I put a mark on paper. 6 marks counted the same as I usually count one 30m pomodoro. I liked it well enough that I’ll be doing it again tomorrow.

ETA: It didn’t really work all that well for me. I will not be continuing it. It was an interesting thing to try though.

I’ve skimmed the actual thread now. My thoughts on the original topic:

The first time I tried pomodoro, it was terrible. If things are going well, the interruption to take a break is frustrating and makes me feel like not trying to work if I’m just going to get interrupted. And doing unrelated things makes it hard to get back on task afterwards. The first time that pomodoro worked for me, my modification was to step away from the computer for the breaks but keep thinking about whatever it is that I’m working on.

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