Friday, December 31, 1999

pomodoro, interrupted

[Originally posted at 4:30PM on Thursday, September 17, 2015.]

It's 3:45PM, and I'm home early from work. Why? your anus hisses, sibilantly inquisitive. Well, Asshole, it's because our office's air conditioner seems to have sprung a coolant leak. A sickeningly sweet, maple-syrup-like smell permeated our space and crept miasmically out into the hallway on incontinent cat's feet. My coworker and I elected to leave our door open to let out as much of the fume as possible (NB: our office has no windows). I also called the boss, at my coworker's behest, to let him know about the problem; el jefe told us to keep the A/C off until he got to the office, and that he'd look into the problem once there.

As it turned out, the boss didn't make it into the office until after 2:30PM today, so my coworker and I worked from 9AM until then in a chemical nimbus of maple syrup. It wasn't noxious enough to be oppressive or debilitating, but it was strong enough so that we never got used to the odor. When the boss showed up and smelled the problem, he immediately told us to pack up and leave: we were done for the day. "You can't sit here breathing in this shit," he said, now fully understanding the nature of the problem. So off we went. I told the boss not to stay too long in the office, but he had to stay at least long enough to call someone to handle the situation—an A/C repairman or someone like that.

So what did I do from 9AM to 3PM? Well, lunch was from 1PM to 2PM, so that kept me out of the office for an hour. During the remaining time, I practiced the Pomodoro Technique, a work-efficiency method that involves being on task for 25 minutes, then resting for five. Every 30-minute chunk of the day was to be divided up that way. I realized that I could walk around our entire building in almost exactly five minutes, which would be a great way for me to get my steps in: every five-minute loop would be 500 steps, since I seem to walk almost exactly 100 steps a minute. If, every hour, I was going out twice, that meant 1,000 steps an hour, or 8,000 steps by the end of the day. On a normal day at the Golden Goose, I rack up around 8,000-9,000 steps total, including the longish walk during lunch.

I would have had my 8,000 steps today had we not been sent home early. Not that I'm complaining about leaving early: it's always good to be out of the office. What this means, though, is that I may have found a way both to improve my performance at work and to pile on steps even during working hours.

The improvement in performance is no bullshit, either: I was easily a hundred times more awake and alert than I normally am when clacking away on my keyboard. I admit I sometimes swerve dangerously close to nodding off: proofreading, editing, and content creation aren't nearly as exciting or engaging as teaching is, and I do get cross-eyed. By walking every half-hour, though, I find that all fatigue simply disappears. The one down-side, of course, is that I get stinkier as the day goes on: half of our building casts a shadow as morning progresses into afternoon, so whenever I'm walking on the sunlit side, I inevitably sweat. Our office, because it lacks windows and proper ventilation, gets a bit ripe after the three of us large Western guys have been sitting in it for eight hours.

But, yeah: the Pomodoro Technique works. I use my cell phone's timer to count down 24 minutes because my lap around the building actually takes slightly longer than five minutes. I work on my projects, walk a lap, work, walk, work, and walk. Didn't get cross-eyed even once today, and I was quite productive while in my seat. I think I'll be doing this from now on, so long as my getting up almost sixteen times a day doesn't drive the boss crazy. (I say "almost" because there's lunch, during which I won't be Pomodoro-ing, and there's the end of the day, when the final Pomodoro-walk would coincide with Leaving for the Day.)

I'm trying to remember where I'd first heard of the Pomodoro Technique. I know Charles had written about it, but because I tend to read around a lot myself, there's a chance I'd learned of the technique even before I happened upon Charles's write-up. I no longer recall, and it doesn't really matter, anyway. However it was that I became aware of this system, the fact is that I do find it quite effective, and anything that helps to boost my step count back up to 15,000 steps a day can't be bad.

So I've got a bit of free time today. Here's hoping the office's air will be clean and fresh tomorrow, and that our A/C will go about its duties with nary a fart or grumble.


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