I have tracked my computer usage with Rescue Time for several years now, but don’t always pay a ton of attention to it. This past week I decided to drop as many of my obligations as I could to focus on pumping a next generation board out for my thesis. I use the Pomodoro technique, relying on the Strict Workflow chrome extension to keep me honest about minimizing distractions. I set the extension up to block stereotypically distracting sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but also my email and calendar so I really have no choice but to do work for the pomodoro duration (25 minutes). I then take a 5 minute break. After four pomodoros, I allow myself a 15 minute break.
I find that the Pomodoro technique works really well for me, especially if I have at least two hours to complete a full cycle. The 15 minute breaks are just long enough for me to be willing to start up another cycle again afterwards, so I feel like it’s a good combination for maintaining momentum but also not burning out. My ideal efficiency (assuming 5 min short breaks + 15 min long breaks and full distraction time during said breaks) is 77% and my cumulative efficiency this past week was 78%, so it looks like I managed to stay right on target when I employ the Pomodoro technique virtually exclusively (a 19% increase from the previous week).