As I mentioned previously, I’ve recently been medicated for ADHD.
Everyone’s experience with medication, even the same medication, is different, but my particular experience — while hugely positive — has involved not so much a decrease in symptoms, but rather a shifting of my symptom profile. Some of my executive functions (particularly task initiation) have significantly improved, but other symptoms, such as time blindness have gotten significantly worse. This means, for example, I can now easily decide to perform a task, and actually maintain focus on that task for hours1, but it’s harder to notice that it’s time to stop, and still somewhat difficult to tear myself away from it.
I’ve tried pomodoro timers before and I’ve had mixed success with them. While I tend to get more done if I set a pomodoro, it’s hard to remember to set the timers in the first place, and it’s hard to do the requisite time-keeping to remember how many pomodoros I’ve already set, how many more I’ll have the opportunity to set, etc. Physical timers have no associated automation and data recording, and apps can be so unobtrusive that I can easily forget about them entirely. I’ve long had an aspiration to eventually write my own custom-tailored app that addresses some of these issues.
As part of a renewed interest in ADHD management techniques, I watched this video about ADHD treatments from Dr. Russell Barkley, wherein he said (I’m paraphrasing) “if I don’t put an intervention into your visual field it might as well not exist”.
I imagined timer that:
- was always clearly present in my visual field;
- recorded the passage of intervals of time regardless of any active engagement from the user; the idea is to record the progress of the day, not give you a button you need to remember to push;
- rewarded me for setting active intentions about what to do with those chunks of time, and allowed me to mark them as successful or failed.
So, last weekend, leveraging my newly enhanced task-initiation and concentration-maintenance abilities, I wrote it, and I’ve been using it all week. Introducing Pomodouroboros, the pomodoro timer that reminds you that the uncaring void marches on regardless of your plans or intentions.
I’ve been using it all week and preliminary results are extremely positive.
This thing is in an extremely rough state. It has no tests, no docs, and an extremely inscrutable UI that you need to memorize in order to use effectively. I need plenty of help with it. I contemplated keeping it private and just shipping a binary, but a realistic assessment of my limited time resources forced me to admit that it already kind of does what I need, and if I want to enhance it to the point where it can help other people, I’ll need plenty of help.
If this idea resonates with you, and you’re on macOS, check out the repo, make
a virtualenv somehow, install its dependencies, I don’t know how you make
virtualenvs or install dependencies, I’m not your dad2, and run
If you’re on another platform, check out the code, ask me some questions, and
maybe try to write a
I cannot express how alien the sensation is to have conscious control over initiating this process; I’ve certainly experienced hyperfocus before but it’s always been something that happens to me and not something that I do ↩
If I am your dad, come talk to me, based on your family history it’s quite likely that you do have ADHD and I’m happy to talk about how to get this installed for you offline. ↩