What Is the Flowtime Technique?
Since Flowtime is a twist on the Pomodoro technique, let’s first define what we mean by the latter.
Pomodoro is a time management technique based on breaking your time up into 25-minute increments and 5-minute breaks. After you have completed four work periods (called 'pomodoro'), you take a more extended (15 to 30 minutes) break.
For a deeper dive into the Pomodoro technique, check out our Pomodoro time management guide.
Since Pomodoro is based on 25-minute work intervals, some people may feel constrained by such short timing, meaning they are likely to get interrupted from their in-depth work sessions. On the other hand, 25 minutes can sometimes feel like forever, as some tasks take a lot less time, meaning that you would have to either stretch out the assignment or break the Pomodoro.
Two exceptional use cases for the Pomodoro technique are all those tasks that you do not like doing or that do not require a lot of thought. Pomodoro works with these types of tasks because it rewards you at each Pomodoro, which is a little push of encouragement all of us sometimes need.
However, if you are working on tasks that require you to be innovative, creative, or solve a particular problem, the Pomodoro technique might fail. Limiting how much time you have to do these tasks could prevent you from entering a flow state, which means you will not be able to tap into your full potential.
How Flowtime Solves One of Pomodoro's Problems?
Flowtime works like this: You start by writing down a single task you plan to focus on during a single Flowtime session. Next, you write down the time you begin working on the task and then work on that one task until you feel you need a break.
Since you do not have to race against a clock to finish your task, all you have to do is focus on the work. When you start feeling tired, or your mind starts wandering, it’s time to take a break.
It’s up to you to determine the length of the break.
Most suggest you take a five-minute break for all the work that lasts under 25 minutes. For work that is over 25 but under 50 minutes, take an eight-minute break. If you have worked for over 50 but less than 90 minutes, take a ten-minute break. And finally, if you have worked for more than 90 minutes, it is suggested that you take a 15-minute break.
However, Flowtime's rules are not strict, so you are free to choose a break time that works the most for you.
Tools and Tips to Help You With Flowtime
Most humans can easily get distracted, as the sheer number of potential distractions surrounding everyone these days is huge. No matter if it is your phone, emails, people, or temptations to check your Instagram, we all have our weaknesses. Flowtime and other time management techniques will not work if you let distractions get in your way.
The best way to ensure that this does not happen to you is to learn to block out the distractions and manage interruptions. Here are some ways you can do that:
Only keep the browser tabs you need for that task open, close all the rest. The more tabs you have open, the easier it will be for you to get distracted by other stuff.
Turn off the notifications for all email, Slack, and other instant messaging services or keep them in Do Not Disturb mode. This will stop all the constant distractions that come from those nagging notifications and you will be able to keep your focus on work.
Keep your phone away from your eyesight, or at least keep it in Airplane mode. The same as turning off your notifications, you will not pick up your phone constantly to check new notifications.
"Eat that frog" or start by working on your biggest, hardest, or most important task first. By getting it out of the way first, the rest of your tasks will feel like a breeze.
If you are looking for software and tools to help you create a less distracting work environment, make sure to check out this awesome list from Caveday.
Benefits of Flowtime
Flowtime is similar to Pomodoro, yet gives you more control over when you start and stop your work sessions.
As such, it can be an excellent practice to develop if you feel as if your time management and productivity levels could be better.
Accessing Flow State
The most significant benefit of Flowtime is the previously mentioned flow state. Other benefits of Flowstate include the ability to easily use Flowtime data for time tracking and figuring out how much time it takes you to complete specific tasks. Knowing how to track computer usage time can prove beneficial for Flowtime as it will help make your time tracking efforts even more straightforward.
Reaching Productivity Goals
If one of your goals with time management is to work from home more productive than usual, for a certain number of hours per day, it’s easy to pull that off if you know how to track computer usage and use the Flowtime technique.
This can be invaluable if you have to reach performance goals at work, or in your home life. Simply engage in Flowtime for as long as you need to make sure you hit your productivity expectations.
Flowtime can also help you keep track of distractions if you add a third column next to the time you stopped working. Additionally, if you work at different places or at different times of the day, Flowtime and knowing how to track computer usage time can help you figure out where and when you are most productive.
The Case for Both Techniques
As you now know, both the Pomodoro and Flowtime time management techniques have the potential to change the way you work for the better.
While one may be the better option for your working style, you don’t have to choose one over the other.
Here’s how you can use both to maintain high performance levels in your work:
Evaluate the Task
First, it’s important to establish what type of task you’ll be working on.
If it’s a cognitively-demanding task, for example, you might be better off using the Flowtime method.
Because with Flowtime you can dive into a problem and all its complexities without worrying in the back of your mind that the buzzer going off will interrupt your flow.
Conversely if you have a less cognitively-demanding task, you can turn to Pomodoro as it offers an effective, straightforward approach to working efficiently.
Adopt a Hybrid Approach
You could also try mixing up the two time management techniques to align with your peak productivity hours.
Try starting your day with Flowtime for instance if that’s when you tackle your most meaningful (and complex) tasks. If you’re a morning person, it’s a good idea to give yourself as much time as you need to dedicate your resources to a problem - and Flowtime supports you in that goal.
You could then turn to Pomodoro in the afternoon when you have more trivial activities on your plate, but you still need to be tuned in.
Reflect and Refine
However you use the time management techniques, make time to reflect on them and the impact they’re having on your ability to be productive.
If you have more success with one over the other, then you can integrate that more fully into your work schedule.
You can also play around with time durations for the Pomodoro method, and make adjustments to your work setup when using Flowtime.
Flowtime vs Pomodoro
Flowtime is a perfect example of how to take something that many people already use and modify it so that more people are now able to enjoy it. Time management techniques were designed in the first place to disrupt the way people were doing work up until that point.
Be sure to give Flowtime a try, even if Pomodoro works for you. Who knows, a Flowtime and Pomodoro hybrid might be perfect for you and your needs.
Updated: September 20, 2023