iPhone apps for ADD – Pomorodo Pro

I was recently diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. In short, I’m thrilled; years of frustration have been explained and I’ve got a comprehensive plan for the future. The iPhone is a part of that plan. This week I’ll be identifying the apps that compliment my treatment plan, noting how and why I use them. [3. Please note that any ADD treatment plan is multi-faceted, individualized and must involve a trained, experienced professional. This post is presented for your information only and not meant as medical advice.]

Pomorodo Pro ($2.99)

One of the hallmarks of ADD is a reduced ability to focus on one thing for extended periods of time. I’m often tempted to do who-knows-what at any moment: watch a YouTube video, look outside, play the piano, etc. Today I’m combating that trait — in part — with specific behavioral change. A part of that is Pomorodo Pro.

The so-called Pomodoro Technique [2. “Pomodoro” is Italian for tomato, and refers to a tomato-shaped kitchen timer.] of personal productivity is a simple, structured mix of on-task behavior and off. Basically, you work for 25 minutes and then break for five minutes. When the break is complete, you start another 25-minute work session, followed by another 5-minute break. After the fourth time through, the break is extended to 15 minutes, and the cycle then reverts to the original 25/5 pattern.

I love it because I can focus for 25 minutes. When my mind wanders onto something other than the task at hand, I can say, “Ah! But soon I’ll have my break, during which I can do this silly thing — if I still remember it then — or whatever else seems interesting.” That’s often helpful in keeping me on task.

There are many Pomodoro apps available for iOS, but my favorite is Pomodoro Pro. Here’s how it works. Simply name the task you’re about to begin and start the timer. That’s it, really. It will run in the background and ding when the work session is complete.

What I like the most is something that many other Pomodoro iPhone apps don’t do. Specifically, it automatically starts the break timer when a work session is complete. Also, it won’t automatically start a work session when a break is complete. It’s nice to simply get up when a work session ends, and to be assured that the work timer won’t begin if I’m away from my desk when the break period ends (as I often am).

Yes, you can use a kitchen timer, the iPhone’s native Clock app, a watch or any number of things you currently have (and have already paid for), but all those represent one more “thing” to keep track of. Since my iPhone never leaves my side, it’s logical to assign Pomodoro duty to it, and not clutter my desk with more stuff.

You can read about the Pomodoro Technique here. There’s more to it than I’ve described, but the work/break sessions are enough for me.

Pomodoro and Omnifocus

Anyone who knows me realizes that I have a significant problem with concentrating on anything. As in medically significant. Yet, I must do things. Every day.

It’s a real hassle.

I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique, as gimmicky as it is, works for me. In a nutshell, it prompts you to work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. After four work/break sessions, that final break is upped to 15 minutes. Then you start over.

It works because I can concentrate for 25 minutes easily, and enjoy the regular permission to goof off. It’s effective for me and that’s what counts.

There are many Pomodoro apps out there [1. Honestly, all you need is a kitchen timer], including the beautiful Pomodoro for iPad. Here’s what’s even better. MACOSX Tumbelog has posted an Applescript that will, with a little help from Dropbox, move actions from OmniFocus into the iPad app. In fact, it will pull tasks from OmniFocus, Things, TaskPaper or really any text file.

I love it: schedule next actions in your favorite repository, move them to Pomodoro for iPad and then get to work. The fact that the app is beautiful is icing on the highly productive cake.