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YouTrack & Pomodoro: Because Your Time Is Valuable

Today I want to tell you about how I met… no, sorry, not that… about the Pomodoro Technique® and how it can be supported in YouTrack. This amusing story serves as an example of how powerful a custom workflow can be and how creatively it can be used.

As you know, we introduced Time Management in YouTrack 4.1. We’ve received a lot of useful feedback and enhancement ideas from our customers. Among them there was this request for a popular time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. Conveniently, it also gives us a chance to demonstrate the power of custom workflows in YouTrack.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Pomodoro (Italian for tomato) is a popular time management and time tracking technique that focuses on determining how much effort an activity requires, and what usually interrupts your work and stands in the way of your concentration. It helps you eliminate all of these distracting factors and, in the end, to increase your productivity and turn time from your enemy into an ally. It also helps you better estimate the efforts you need to complete a task.

How does Pomodoro work?

It’s quite simple: you divide your activity in equal time intervals, which are called “pomodoros.”

  • A traditional pomodoro is 30 minutes long: 25 minutes of work plus a 5-minute break.
  • Every four pomodoros you are allowed to take a bigger break of 15 to 30 minutes.
  • One of the key points is that a pomodoro cannot be interrupted or split up. It marks 25 minutes of pure work.
  • If interruptions occur, you stop your pomodoro and log the cause of the interruption.

Through repeated use, pomodoros help you observe the way you work, improve your estimates, and raise your productivity.

That’s just a brief intro, so if you’d like to dig in for more details about the technique, look no further than its official home site.

How the Pomodoro Technique is supported in YouTrack

As I said earlier, we’ve implemented support for Pomodoro via a custom workflow called pomodoroTimer. It contains three rules that work as follows:

1.  A state machine that defines how a pomodoro transitions from state to state. The beauty of this rule is that for each finished or interrupted pomodoro, YouTrack automatically adds a new work item. Thus it automatically logs your work on that particular issue!

2. A scheduled rule that actually runs the timer and invokes a 25-minute countdown.

3. A rule that restricts changing the cause of the interruption (‘Pomodoro interruption’ field) without stopping the timer.

The pomodoroTimer workflow will use three additional issue fields. You don’t need to create new fields, as this will be handled by the workflow after you import it:

1. Pomodoro state – a field of state[1] type with the following values:
Timer’s running, Timer finished, On a break, Not set.  ‘Not set’ should be used as the default value.

2. Pomodoro interruption – a field of enum[1] type with the following values:
Phone call, Boss interrupted, Urgent email, Facebook chat.
Feel free to add whatever interruptions you like to this list. [This field can be empty, and an empty value will be used by the workflow by default.]

3. Pomodoro countdown – an integer type field for the timer itself.

If you want more details, take a look at this issuegrab the workflow and upload it to the workflow editor (downloaded here), and you’ll see what is what because the rules are pretty self-descriptive.

If you simply want to get the PromodoroTimer workflow to work for your project, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that Time Tracking in enabled for the project.
  2. Download the pomodoroTimer workflow and import it to your YouTrack project via Administration ->Projects->’Project Name’->Workflow part.
  3. You’ll see that the workflow rules are highlighted. Click on the rules and apply all the suggested quick-fixes:


All the required issue fields along with the values will be created and attached to your project automatically.

If you are new to custom workflows in YouTrack, please take a look at the Workflow guide for more details and watch this short video. You are also welcome to check out our rich Workflow repository, where you will find useful examples of previously created workflows to experiment with.

In conclusion, if you practice the Pomodoro technique, then you can use it with YouTrack with the added benefit of automatically tracking your working time. If not, then you’ve learned how you can adapt YouTrack to your work routine with minimum effort, and how you can implement automatic time tracking with the help of YouTrack workflow. Use that for your yoga lessons or whatever else requires time tracking.

Keep tracking your time with Pomodoro!

Comments below can no longer be edited.

9 Responses to YouTrack & Pomodoro: Because Your Time Is Valuable

  1. YouTrack & Pomodoro: Because Your Time Is Valuable | Time Management Magazine says:

    December 6, 2012

    […] See on […]

  2. Avatar

    Jacky Chan says:

    December 7, 2012

    Can you fix grab the link? I can not find, and please supply correct link. Thanks.

  3. Valerie Andrianova

    Valerie Andrianova says:

    December 7, 2012

    Hi Jacky,
    The link leads to the issue: where the is added as an attachment. You are welcome to download it from this issue. We will add this workflow to our repository pretty soon. I apologize for the inconvenience.

  4. Avatar

    Timwi says:

    December 12, 2012

    I don’t understand how this is supposed to help. 99% of the interruptions are outside of my control. What use is logging them?

  5. Valerie Andrianova

    Valerie Andrianova says:

    December 12, 2012

    Hi Timwi,
    Pomodoro technique is aimed to provide you with better understanding of causes that interrupt your working process and help you realize whether these interruptions cause the problems you need to solve to improve your results or not. And this blog post is just an example of how you can use custom workflow in YouTrack to support any technique you may find useful for your specific process.

  6. Avatar

    Louise McMillan says:

    February 6, 2014

    This is a great idea, and I was looking forward to using it on my projects — especially as for versions 5x of YouTrack, the Pomodoro timer is one of the built-in workflows you can add.

    Unfortunately, there’s a major error in it. When you add the workflow and apply the “Quick Fixes” to add the Pomodoro state field and the Pomodoro interruptions and Countdown fields, the Quick Fix leaves the Pomodoro state field as “No pomodoro state” by default, instead of changing the default to “Not set”.

    Then if you go and create new issues, they have “No pomodoro state” as their Pomodoro state, and it is impossible to select any of the actual pomodoro state values, and the “Start (timer is running)” is not available so you can’t run the timer.

    If you fix the default value in the fields list to be “Not set” then any new issues after that are fine, they work ok, with “Start” being available as one of the states. But the old issues are still broken, with No pomodoro state being the only option.

    So all in all, a great idea, but useless unless the Quick Fix is fixed to work properly.

    • Valerie Andrianova

      Valerie Andrianova says:

      February 7, 2014

      Louise, thank you for pointing us to an issue. This is a known workflow limitation:
      We’ll do our best to get it fixed in the next version. Please vote!

  7. Avatar

    Gary Mort says:

    February 20, 2014

    How can I trigger a workflow remotely[ie start and stop the timer?]

    Ideally, I’d like to be able to trigger it from within PHPStorm

    • Avatar

      Ekaterina Ivanova says:

      February 24, 2014

      Gary, you can use REST API method to apply a command and change value of “Pomodoro states” field. Please refer to description of the “Apply command” REST API method.

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