Table of Contents Hide
- Who invented the flowtime technique?
- Steps to get started with Flowtime Technique
- What to do with the timesheet or flowtime journal
- Pros and cons of the flowtime technique
- Is the Flowtime technique better than the Pomodoro technique?
- Final Thoughts
You like the Pomodoro technique because of its focused work sessions. But feel disturbed when the alarm for the break goes off. Also, rigid intervals force you to take a break when fully immersed in your work. What if you get a solution that includes Pomodoro’s core features but has flexibility in intervals? The flowtime technique can be the answer for you—an alternative to the Pomodoro technique, which encourages flow state and gives flexibility in breaks.
This time management technique helped many people focus longer on their work and maximize productivity while avoiding burnout. In this article, you’ll learn everything about the flowtime method and how to use it to your benefit.
What is the flowtime technique?
The flowtime technique is a modified version of the Pomodoro technique. The process involves selecting a task and working on it until you feel you need a break. Here you take breaks when needed instead of being forced to do so.
To understand the flowtime technique properly, let’s get a brief idea of the Pomodoro technique.
Francisco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro technique to work in short sprints and get things done. The length of each sprint is usually 25 minutes long, which is followed by a 5-minute break.
Learn more about the process in this article: Is The Pomodoro Technique Effective for Studying
While the Pomodoro technique is an excellent productivity and time management technique, it only works for some because of variations in tasks and working style.
Some assignments require deep thinking, and more than 25 minutes are needed to complete the tasks. Even scheduled breaks interrupt workflow and train of thought. For example, creative work and problem-solving needs extended focus time. Conversely, some activities need less time and more than 25 minutes is too long to do the tasks.
The flowtime technique solves these problems. First, it encourages you to work until your flow state lasts. Then, instead of rigid intervals, you can take a break that fits your workflow better.
Who invented the flowtime technique?
Zoe Read-Bivens introduced the flowtime technique in 2016 to overcome the shortcomings of the Pomodoro technique.
After applying the Pomodoro technique in her work, she encountered some problems. Although it prevents interruptions, she believes it disrupts the flow state. In addition, it is difficult to pay attention to work when you have stress for passing time and break in mind. Read-Bivens named it PomoStress.
She liked the idea of time tracking, unitasking, and breaks in Pomodoro. Still, She wanted to avoid the mandatory interval during the flow state. Therefore, Read-Bivens started to brainstorm for an alternative approach. Then she customized the Pomodoro technique by encouraging flow and introducing flexible break time. She named it the Flowtime technique.
Read the original article about this technique: The Flowtime Technique. Abandoning Pomodoros Part 2 | by Urgent Pigeon | Medium
Steps to get started with Flowtime Technique
The process of the flowtime technique is simple. You need to record the start and stop times of a task you do and take a break when you feel it’s needed. To clarify the method, here is the process described in the step-by-step guide. Let’s delve into the process.
1. Create a timesheet
Before you begin to work and start tracking time, you need to create a timesheet to record time and your activities. It is a flowtime log or journal.
You can create this log by drawing a table on paper, creating a spreadsheet, or using an app. The timesheet should include the following things –
- Task name,
- Start time,
- End time,
- Break duration
Here is a sample timesheet for the flowtime technique.
Download Flowtime timesheet/log in different formats
Some apps support this technique. You can choose one of them to automate the process.
2. Choose a task
From your to-do list, select only one task that you will be doing in the next 30 to 90 minutes or even for more time. Make sure you’ve chosen a specific task instead of a generic task. For example, while ‘writing’ is a generic task, ‘writing a proposal for X company is an instance of a specific job. However, if an assignment is broad enough to do at once, break it down into several manageable pieces and apply the flowtime method to do the task.
3. Record the start time and work on the task
Note down the time as soon as you start doing the task. Once you start working on it, be focused and avoid multitasking. Work on the task until you feel you need a break. Here are some signs of your brain and body demanding a break from work.
- You have just accomplished a complex or lengthy task,
- You started to feel tired
- You are finding it difficult to concentrate,
- You are beginning to run out of ideas
- You are encountering frequent distractions.
4. Keep a note of distractions
Take notes on how many times and what type of interruptions you encountered when you were in the flow state. Some common interruptions are – phone calls, notifications, coworkers’ conversations, the urge to go to the toilet, etc. Tracking distractions will help you take necessary measures to limit these occurrences for future deep work sessions. Also, you’ll schedule focused sessions keeping interruptions in mind.
5. Record stop time and take a break.
When you feel that you need a break, go for it. Don’t forget to write down the time you stopped working on your timesheet. Here the break duration is flexible. You can take longer or shorter breaks and return to work when ready.
Although there are no hard and fast rules for the length of intervals, ensure you spend reasonable time. Otherwise, breaks will eat up the majority of your time.
In the Pomodoro technique, there is a 5-minutes break after a 25-minutes work period. In the Flowtime method, you can set break time proportionally based on the length of work periods.
Here are some suggestions for interval times:
Break duration (recommended)
|25 minutes||5 minutes|
|25 – 50 minutes||8 minutes|
|50 – 90 minutes||10 minutes|
|More than 90 minutes||15 minutes|
6. Repeat the process
After the break time, repeat the steps to resume the task or start a new one. You can repeat the process as many times as you want until your workday ends or your to-do list is complete.
What to do with the timesheet or flowtime journal
Now you have a record of your activities and length of focus time for each task. What is the purpose of the flowtime journal?
Firstly, maintaining a record of your work time and break time will keep you accountable for your work. In addition, it will help you remain focused on the task at hand and avoid procrastination. Also, prevent you from wasting time on unnecessary activities.
Secondly, you’ll be able to get an overview of your workday and worktime pattern. When you review the timesheet at the end of each week, you’ll notice that you remained focused for longer at a particular part of the day. For example, it could be in the morning or the afternoon. It is the Biological Prime Time when you are more comfortable doing deep work. Thus, you can schedule focused sessions in this part of the day.
Thirdly, you’ll identify the types and times of interruptions. After reviewing the timesheet, you’ll know at which time of the day you faced more distractions. You can use this information to schedule less critical or shallow tasks at this time.
Pros and cons of the flowtime technique
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for time management because everyone is different. The Flowtime technique is no exception to this rule.
Although this technique works effectively for time management and productivity, it has some drawbacks. Here we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this method.
Benefits of the flowtime technique
Here are some reasons why the flowtime method works well, and you should include this in your time management system.
- It is flexible: Instead of following fixed intervals and rigid time frames like the Pomodoro technique, you can take breaks when needed. Also, take short or long breaks based on your work duration.
- Encourages focus: With this method, you can immerse yourself in work for longer. Forced intervals won’t disrupt your train of thought.
- It is personalized: It allows you to customize the system according to your working style and situation.
Flowtime technique drawbacks
Here are some disadvantages you may experience while trying this method.
- It takes time: To use this technique to its full potential, you must undergo trial and error procedures. And figure out appropriate time lengths for focus and break for each task.
- It requires good planning and discipline: Applying this technique requires proper planning. Besides maintaining a timesheet, you should be disciplined about time. Also, be aware of daily goal setting, prioritization, and a rough time estimate for each task.
- Not suitable for an unpredictable schedule: Are instant meetings, urgent tasks, and phone calls often distract you? Are you working in an uncertain environment? Then the flowtime technique may not suit you.
Is the Flowtime technique better than the Pomodoro technique?
When it is a matter of comparison between the flowtime technique and the Pomodoro technique, we can’t say one method is better than the other one. Two ordinary persons, who wanted to stay focused and productive in their work, developed their techniques. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses.
While the Pomodoro Technique encourages you to work in sprints, the Flowtime technique encourages concentration.
The Pomodoro method is ideal for tasks that require little thought. And people often procrastinate on these tasks. On the other hand, the flowtime method is ideal for creative work and brainstorming.
While the Pomodoro method helps people beat procrastination, the Flowtime method guards concentration.
Thus, we can’t say the Flowtime technique is better than the Pomodoro technique. However, both approaches have developed to be productive and focused on work. Therefore, you can use the method that works best for you.
The flowtime technique is undoubtedly effective for deep work and getting this done. However, we are all wired differently, so finding a universal productivity approach that works for everyone is impossible. Although we can’t say it is the ultimate method, it is worth trying. If you fail to reap its desired benefit, you can try other time management techniques to spend your workdays productively.