Do Pomodoro timers interfere with achieving a flow state?
Yes . . and that’s OK.
To me, flow is a state of mind. And the Pomodoro technique helps set the stage for my mind to enter flow. Once my mind is in the flow state, I find I can break out for a few minutes and still be able to enter into flow after the break.
When I’m doing cognitive stuff like research, customer support and web development stuff, I’m pretty good at sticking to the Pomodoro time box and staying in flow. I take care not to start something new during the 5-minute break like join a conversation about the latest Twitter storm. I stretch, maybe grab a quick coffee and get back to my desk. (My co-workers see the glazed look in my eye and tend to leave me alone.) So I don’t think I leave the flow state – I’m just resting my brain for a bit. Sure, sometimes I get out of flow, but then I use tools to “start” it up again and I’m cool.
That said, when I’m doing deep creative work like writing or deep dev work, I find I consistently overrun Pomodoro time limits and I’m fine with that. When I’m in the groove, I’m in the groove. I don’t notice the time passing (I’m surewould not be pleased with me) and I don’t stop just because the timer says stop. I do take breaks, but the schedule is different and I’ve come to trust myself to take a break when I’m not productive.
The trick for me was to find a way to attain flow quickly. And if needed, to maintain it. I’m getting to the point where I can enter flow when I need to, and not stress about dropping out because I know I can turn it on when needed. So the combination of flow and the Pomodoro technique works great for me.
[Image Credit: Fractus Learning]