Pomodoro contest!

The contest is over! Thanks everyone who played. All the solutions can be found on this Trello Board

Let’s have a little fun. We have ten books and ten timers to give out in conjunction with our guest blog post on the Pomodoro Technique.

Here is how the contest works.

This Trello Pomodoro Contest board has ten “puzzles” hidden in it.

What’s a puzzle on this board?  Well, they can be hidden words, hidden questions, patterns, puns, obvious questions, word play, and so on. Lots of different kinds of things. Some of the puzzles require an answer to a question (perhaps on the back of a card), some are just patterns or other things that you could discover. The puzzles might be contained within a list, might span a list, might be on the back of cards, might be on the front…how is that for a set of very specific clues?

Keep in mind that there are ten official “puzzles”. You may find some pattern that we didn’t intend, but they don’t count.  They have to be on the list of highly secret official puzzles that only a handful of shady and untrustworthy people know about.

Once you find one, or think you find one, send an email to contest@trello.com, and let us know what you think the puzzle or pattern is. In some cases it is the answer to a question found on the board. We’ll email you back if you got the right one.

If you have a twitter account, let us know what yours is so we can mention you.

So, 1) find the pattern, hidden word, answer, etc., 2) send us an email, and 3) if you’re first, win a copy of Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique book and a timer.

The first person to send us an email with the solution wins that puzzle, and it’s considered closed. (Also, a person can only win one puzzle, so even though you successfully found five of them and emailed us first, you’ll get credit for one and we’ll go to the next person who has not yet won something, just to spread the Pomodoro love around).

As the puzzles are discovered or solved, we’ll announce them on the Trello twitter account, and we’ll announce them on the Trello Pomodoro Answer Board.

If any of these prove to be too hard to solve, we’ll give out some hints along the way.

So go to the Trello Pomodoro Contest Board now, and see if you can find any of them.

The Pomodoro Technique for better productivity

Editor’s note: This guest post is by Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a short introduction to a relatively simple and yet powerful method for getting more work done with less stress.

For many of us, time is an enemy. The anxiety triggered by the “ticking clock” and looming deadlines leads to ineffective work and study behavior, which in turn elicits the tendency to procrastinate. Instead of supporting our efforts, the concept of time ends up decreasing our productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique turns this around. Instead of working against you, time is transformed into a valuable ally.

The technique itself is deceptively simple. However, its effectiveness is undeniable, as evidenced by the thousands of people around the world who are using it with great success, in a multitude of areas. Individually, within a team, at work, at home, or at school, there are practically endless ways in which the Pomodoro Technique can be applied.

The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique can be split into five simple steps:

1.     Choose a task to be accomplished

2.     Set a timer to 25 minutes

3.     Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper

4.     Take a 5 minute break (this marks the completion of one “Pomodoro”)

5.     Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

A “Pomodoro” is 25 minutes long, followed by a 3-5 minute break. Breaks are an essential component of the Pomodoro Technique. Although it may be tempting to skip taking a break when you feel that you are on a roll or making great progress, they are important to keeping your stamina up and reducing mental fatigue. Which ultimately will increase your productivity, not hinder it.

After the break is over, set the timer once again to 25 minutes and continue the activity at hand until it rings again. This process is continued, but taking a longer break (about 15-30 minutes) every four Pomodoros. Then, just keep on working, Pomodoro after Pomodoro, until the task at hand is finished.

Incremental Objectives

A series of incremental objectives lies at the heart of the Pomodoro Technique. It is an invaluable guide that will not only allow you to get the most out of the technique, but also provide a way for you to assess its effectiveness in a very short timeframe.

There are a total of six objectives: five defined by the technique and one open to personal areas of improvement.

Objective I: Find Out How Much Effort an Activity Requires

Objective II: Cut Down on Interruptions

Objective III: Estimate the Effort for Activities

Objective IV: Get the most out of each single Pomodoro

Objective V: Set a Timetable

Objective VI: Apply the technique to improve other areas

There is much that can be discovered about yourself through the process of reaching each objective one at a time. You can even learn how to make improvements at the end of every individual pomodoro!

Of course, this is all just the beginning! Truly mastering the Pomodoro Technique requires time and practice, but the rewards are great and certainly worthwhile. The full technique and six objectives are explained in detail in the Pomodoro Technique book.

Editor’s note: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.  We’re having a contest where you can win a copy of Francesco’s book and a pomodoro timer. It’s going to start at 1:00 US Eastern Time. More details will be posted here and on Twitter before the contest.  HERE ARE THE CONTEST RULES

Cutting out friction

We’re always looking for ways to make Trello faster and easier to use. You should be spending your time getting satisfaction from moving cards from “Doing” to “Done”, not wondering how to get from A to B or wrestling with the interface. We’ve added some refinements that should make navigating, collaborating, and using the site much nicer.

Boards search

As a serious Trello user, you’ve got a lot of boards. I’ve got 22 of them. Clicking the “Boards” button in the header gives you a big lists of boards you’ve got to sift through. And if a board isn’t pinned to your header menu, you’ve got to go back to your home page, scroll through an even bigger list and find it. It can be a pain.

We’ve made jumping between boards much faster by adding the ability to search your boards from the header boards menu. Just click “Boards”, start typing, press enter, and you’re there. There’s even a new “b” keyboard shortcut that opens up the menu instantly. You can also use the up and down arrow keys to navigate the list when you’ve narrowed down your search.

Tip: if you want to remove a board from the header menu, you need to “unpin” it. Just open the board, click the “Board Menu” button in the sidebar, and select “Unpin from Header Menu”. You’ll enjoy a less cluttered menu. Searching from the header menu will search all your boards, pinned or unpinned.

Mention autocomplete

Mentioning members in comments is a nice way to make sure they get notified. You used “@” plus a person’s first name, last name, or username. Unfortunately, mentioning was a bit confusing because there might be multiple Mikes, you might not have spelled the name correctly, and there just wasn’t anything in the interface that told you it was going to work.

We’ve added autocomplete to help. Just type “@” followed by the name of the person you’re looking to mention and you’ll get a list of matching members. You’ll see their full name, username, and avatar, so you know it’s the right person. Trello will insert a unique username, ensuring that it mentions Mike Smith and not Mike Johnson. There’s also a button that brings up a list of people to mention. You can search for users from that menu as well. You’ll also have the options to mention all card members, all board member, or all commenters.

Drag to scroll 

A horizontal layout of lists is important in Trello, since lists often signify phases of a project and moving cards left to right implies progression. We had early beta versions that put overflowing lists on a new line. It totally ruined the visual metaphor. This means that with a lot of lists, some get hidden and you need to scroll horizontally to see them. Horizontal scrolling can be a pain, especially with a mouse where you’ve got a tiny scrollbar to hunt down.

So we added a new drag-to-scroll feature that makes it much easier. Just find an open place on the board and drag horizontally. The board will scroll with your mouse. It’s easier and more fun. I find myself dragging boards even though I have a trackpad that makes scrolling easy.

Filter by card title

We built Trello so that you can see everything that’s happening in your project in a single glance. With a big project, you’re going to have a bunch of cards and it’s going to be harder to find a card you’re looking for. We introduced card filtering soon after Trello’s launch to help this. You can filter by member and label to know exactly who is working on what types of things.

We made filters better by adding the ability to search by title. We’ve since refined it to match parts of words, giving better results. Now to find cards about “cake”, for example, you can just click “Search and Filter Cards” (or use the “f” keyboard shortcut), and start typing “cake”. Finding specific cards is now much easier.

Browser Performance

Fast is a feature. You shouldn’t notice transitions and interactions should be fluid. Things were getting sluggish on FireFox and Internet Explorer, especially on bigger screens and when dragging cards. This was mostly due to advanced CSS features like box-shadow, border-radius, and SVG backgrounds. We cut those out for those browsers and performance are noticeably better.

Double click to add list

If you’ve ever thought, “I want to add a list right here between these two lists”, now you can. Just double click on an open space on the board, and Trello will bring up the add list menu. It will figure out the position based on where you clicked. It’s a small time-saver, but a handy one.

And there you have it. More speed, less friction, and easier collaboration and navigation. We’re always thinking of how to cut out friction, and our fast development cycle and flexible framework allow us to push things out quickly. As always, check out our public Trello Development board to find out what we’re working on.