Meet my new BFF– Pomello!
Pomello is NOT the latest yoga trend, or an exotic fruit. Pomello is a neat little Pomodoro timer that runs as a Chrome extension and integrates with Trello. I discovered Pomello when I was looking for a way to simplify and prioritize my work in JIRA. I was NOT looking for a pomodoro timer - but now that I’m using it, I feel like Pomello is my new BFF.
Pomodoro is a time management technique that involves working on a single task for a pre-determined time interval, followed by a short break. That’s one pomodoro cycle. At the end of the cycle, you choose whether to continue the task, or start a new one.
Pomello is designed to work with Trello, but beyond initial setup, does not require that you actually use Trello. Since you can add tasks, move them between lists, and add notes to a task straight from Pomello, the Trello overhead is quite low.
Here’s how I’m using Pomello.
I added a Trello board with lists to match my team’s JIRA statuses. I’ll show you that in a bit. It’s not important because I rarely go into Trello.
When I’m ready to start a task, I click on the Pick a task link in the handy Pomello desktop tool.
I can choose a task from my current list, or switch to a different list.
I can also add a new task without going to Trello at all. I generally use the JIRA story id and title as my task name if there’s a one-to-one correspondance. I also have tasks for ‘write up a bug’ or ‘prep for meeting’ to keep track of adhoc tasks.
When my pomodoro work interval is complete, I can tell Pomello whether I finished the task, or if I want to work on it again. If I finish the task, I can move it to another Trello board. If I work on it again, Pomello keeps track of how many Pomodoro cycles I’ve spent on the task.
I can also add notes to my tasks at any time, which are saved as comments on the Trello card. This is a handy way to keep a record of testing activities, or interruptions or tangents that came up. If I like, I can copy these to my JIRA story to keep my testing visible to any one who’s interested.
And then I get a break! Email, hipchat, calendar check, and a coffee refill and I’m ready to rock and roll again.
Getting in the pomodoro groove takes some mental discipline - discipline to stop what you’re doing when the time is up, and also discipline to stay focused on the task for the entire time. I have learned to close email and chats while I’m in a cycle. The impulse to instantly respond to the latest email or question on chat is a hard habit to break - but it’s easier when I can look at my pomodoro timer and tell my email “I’ll check you in 11 minutes. Now leave me alone!”
Using Pomello/pomodoro techniques has had some side benefits that I did not expect.
As a remote team worker new to working on my own, I struggle sometimes to organize my day and prioritize my work. Pomello and pomodoro techniques give my day a rhythm - periods of focus time interspersed with shorter periods of team interaction.
Also, sometimes I’m amazed at how little I get done in a cycle - setup for a particular test, deploying builds, etc. all take time that is usually hidden. With Pomello, It’s easy to jot down notes so I can see that I am making progress, although the progress is not very visible.
Finally, here’s my Trello board. As mentioned, I have not spent much time in Trello beyond setting up boards and lists. Pomello works well on its own to get me in the zone.