I have the extreme good fortune to speak at several conferences a year, and I always grow from each one, either by taking in useful content, or by meeting interesting people. This week I made my first trip to Poland, to speak at GeeCON 2010. As usual, I decided to re-invent my JSF presentation and didn't start the effort in earnest until far to late in the process. Though I was happy with the result, I missed seeing Staffan Nöteberg's presentation on the “Pomodoro Technique”. Staffan’s abstract read,

You have so much you need to accomplish today. Your list is a mile long and you find yourself getting interrupted every other minute. You'd like to tell everyone to leave you alone, but most of the interruptions are coming from you! You think of a phone call you need to make or a web site you need to check and before you know it you're answering email, checking twitter, and finding a million other things to occupy your time. You need to focus - really focus. The Pomodoro Technique puts you back in charge of your day.

As a practicing software professional, and having written a book that explored this topic from another angle myself, I really wanted to see the talk. However, priorities are priorities, and I wanted to have all new content for my JSF2 talk. As it turns out, prioritization is at the heart of the Pomodoro Technique, so I was already on the mark.

Later that evening, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Staffan and he and I exchanged books. Here's why I’m so excited about reading this book. It explicitly acknowledges that humans can only do one thing at a time, more poetically put as, “You can’t dance at two weddings with one rear end.”

I expect that my existing practice of using the Franklin Planner, combined with Pomodoro, will help me get more done and mitigate the effects of distractions. In any case, this is the first self help book I’ve been excited about in a long time, so that much is a win.

[Yes, I wrote this in the span of one Pomodoro.]