As professional developers we work iteration after iteration on our project. Some projects are longer than others and it is likely that when one ends a new one begins. Therefore it is important for the programmers to preserve their energy level week after week.
When a developer is tired, his focus is dropping and it is likely that he will do more mistakes than usual and the quality of the development will decrease.
A marathon made of sprints
Finding the pace for a development team is hard because it should move as fast as possible but without getting tired in the long run, in a way it is like a marathon.
Yet at a lower level it can be seen as a sequence of small sprints with resting periods between each of them. With this technic the developers are able to work hard with a good level of focus on their task without losing their energy on the long run. This only work if the resting period are respected.
The pomodoro technique is based on this approach, where you work on a dedicated task for about 25 minutes, then take a 3-5 minutes break before starting a new “sprint” of 25 minutes, and after 4 pomodori take a longer break (from 15 to 30 minutes).
That’s a lot of breaks! Yes it is, yet these breaks are mandatory if you want the programmers to replenish their energy level. Because during the 25 minutes pomodoro they stayed highly focused on their task and it is a demanding exercise regarding mental stamina.
With the practice of Extreme Programming (XP) it is advisable not to work over 40 hours a week, beyond this point it is likely that the pace will slowly decrease over time.
But sometimes working on a project requires some overtime in order to reach a given milestone, it is acceptable only if it is unusual. And if during a week the team is working extra time for the project, they cannot repeat this abnormal experience the week after.
In order to save the energy level of the team members and, by extension, their pace, the resting periods have to be respected. Otherwise it is likely that the developers will lose their focus over time and the product they work on will suffer.
Developing software is a mentally exhausting activity, it requires a lot of focus in order to get things done the right way. Refilling the batteries is essential to avoid any burn-outs among the team. You can use the pomodoro technique to switch between “energized work” periods and resting periods, this will allow you to take care of your tasks with a good pace without losing all your energy.
See you next time!
2 thoughts on “Extreme Programming: Sustainable Pace”
Coincidentally I have just written a post on pomodoro on my own blog: http://zombiecodekill.com/2015/06/08/why-im-not-yet-sold-on-the-pomodoro-technique/
Despite my reservations I am learning that it is indeed important to take regular breaks when working at full speed to avoid burnout. It is normal to take an hour lunch break, but probably it is more effective to have a couple of 30 minute breaks in a day.
Your article is very interesting and I share your vision. I personaly don’t use the pomodoro technique at the moment, I shared the link for those who are unfamiliar with the concept.
And I think whatever technique works for you is fine if it keeps you productive and rested.
LikeLiked by 1 person