Beeminder Forum

"Work cycles"

I just tried this, and I recommend it:

https://www.ultraworking.com/cycles

“Pomadoro technique” for some reason never appealed to me much – this is similar, but it has a bit more structure. Still lightweight though.

I went for the setup he recommends to start with: 6 cycles, each of 30 mins work + 10 min questions / break (so 6 x 40 mins = 4 hours total).

I found it seemed to help me a lot to avoid getting distracted, made me get up and walk around every so often, and kept me re-thinking and refocusing on what was important at the right sort of frequency. I also found the questions at the end of every cycle to be useful at the end of the 4 hours to remember where I’d gone wrong.

Personally I didn’t actually use the spreadsheet template, I used org instead (which is a productivity/note taking tool popular amongst programmers who use emacs). That meant I missed the little charts, but I don’t feel like that was much of a loss. The spreadsheet template looks good though, and a good way to start if you don’t already have some.

Definitely going to try this again. Not sure if it’ll work as well every time, or in every situation, but I’m going to see how far it goes…

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Thanks for the share, watching the video. Writing down your intentions and reviewing them afterwards is always a good concept.

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I’ve used them for months, moved to focusmate.com. Same kind of accountability, but in smaller blocks of time (sessions lasts 50min).

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@caffo not sure what you mean by “smaller blocks of time”? You say you’re using 50 minutes on focusmate, I’ve been using the default Work Cycles time of 40 minutes, each made up of 30 minutes work + 10 minutes for questions and break. I guess you’re saying you do one 50 min focusmate block and then stop and do something else?

Some observations from my experience today, only my second set of Work Cycles:

  1. Major beeminder similarity, which I guess (?) is a difference from Pomodoro: I think Work Cycles functions nicely as a way to turn a say 4 hour commitment into a very concrete 30 minute one. The slight pressure of the 30 minutes – and a specific goal for that 30 minutes – makes it clearer to yourself in the moment whether you’re actually advancing towards your goal or not. You also feel more vividly how “long” periods like 4 hours are composed of short periods like 30 minutes, and how a 30 minute cycle is composed of minutes/seconds, hence the value of concentrating on what you’re doing right now!

  2. Fairly obvious/dull thing perhaps: seems best to pick longer cycle times if you’re working on something you find takes more concentrated time to get something done. I was working today on something I have less experience with, and I found 30 minutes was a bit short for that. In that situation I will try 50 mins next time I think. The first time, 30 minutes was fine because the skills I was using were very well practiced already; this time, I found I’d often just figure out what I needed to do when I got to the end of a cycle. On that score it also didn’t help that the activity also involved longish waits of 5 minutes or so for the program I was working on to run (I could get on and continue with work during that, but the context changes to and from starting the program running and working on code made everything take a bit longer).

  3. If the work you’re doing is a bit fuzzy and open-ended, when you get to the end of your set of cycles, there’s the nice feeling that you know you weren’t messing around!

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@caffo not sure what you mean by “smaller blocks of time”? You say you’re using 50 minutes on focusmate, I’ve been using the default Work Cycles time of 40 minutes, each made up of 30 minutes work + 10 minutes for questions and break. I guess you’re saying you do one 50 min focusmate block and then stop and do something else?

So sorry, I mixed things up. The Work Cycle concept is nice, what I prefer focusmate over is their work gym sessions where they do 5 work cycles together over camera — https://www.ultraworking.com/twg