Pomodoro Yo-yo Effect

Recently I started feeling stressed and less productive which forced me to be more conscious of my work, habits and everything around it. Thanks to that I noticed:

  1. I got a lot of notifications from Slack, Messenger and Email.
  2. I felt anxious before starting new tasks.
  3. My focus wasn't predictable, especially on harder tasks.

Don't get me wrong, I felt great most of the time, especially when I sat for hour or two at a time coding. The troubling thing was that it wasn't every day and I felt it was getting worse.

Most of those problems should be fixed by Pomodoro techinique I was writing about before, did it stop working? The thing is, I stopped using it.

A couple of months ago I noticed that staring new tasks, and taking breaks is actually a hindrance. I could easily focus for an hour or more on a task and basically forget about Pomodoro, and feel guild about not following it or not keeping proper count. I've decided that it wasn't necessary anymore. It did it's job and it was time to move on.

Unfortunately the world around me was changing all the time. I think most of it is more people joining our project. It's not a problem in itself but it means more emails and more Slack messages. The problem was that the change was so subtle that it took me a pretty long time to notice and I was sliding into my old distractions habits one small step at a time.

So what do I do now?

I've started by disabling most of the notifications. I still get Direct Messages and announcements on Slack, but it's a lot less distractions. In case of email I disabled all of them. I check email app every 1-2 hours but at least I read 2-3 new emails at a time and it's when it's convenient for me.

I'm back to Pomodoro as well. I was thinking what to do about 25min time limit (optimal would be around 60-90 minutes), but my back ache forced me to look at it from a different perspective. From what I remember from reading Healthy Programmer, every 20 minutes we should let our eyes rest (look at something far away for at lest 20 seconds) and switch between sitting and standing position. I don't have a standing desk right now but I try to at lest stand up and stretch a little.

Of course it's still not perfect, but I already feel it's helping me to get more done.

This whole story makes me think of the Yo-yo effect and I'm curious if anyone has similar experiences?

One more thing: I was fortunate to stumble upon a really good review of Deep Work and Flow at the same time: https://www.robinwieruch.de/lessons-learned-deep-work-flow/. For me it's great as a reminder but I highly recommend if you want to know more before buying those books yourself.

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