Use PomBot for Slack to Co-ordinate Short Sprints with Your Remote Colleagues


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

Image Source: Michael Mayer on Flickr

The Pomodoro Technique is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to organize your time and get shift done.

In its simplest formulation, the Pomodoro Technique goes something like this:

  1. Decide what you need to do.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. Work on your task until the timer goes off.
  4. Take a five minute break, and then start again.
  5. Every four ‘pomodoros’ take a longer break.

But what if, like most of us, you need to synchronize your work with others while getting shift done? What if you work remotely and you need to show what you’re working on?

Enter PomBot, an assistant you can add to any Slack channel to use the Pomodoro Technique as a team. Here’s how it works:

You can use PomBot in any channel, new or existing. In this example we’re going to create a new, private channel and invite a subset of our colleagues.

Add the details of your channel. We’ve called ours sprint, entered a suitable purpose, and invited the team members who will work on this project.

Now you’ve created your sprint channel, it’s time to add PomBot. There are many bots in the Slack app store, but this particular one is installed from the website:

Click on the Add to Slack button and follow the simple instructions to get it set up, including permission to read/write to your organization’s Slack instance:

Once PomBot has been added to your Slack instance, you need to invite it to your sprint channel. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way is to simply enter @pombot help and then press enter. You will be prompted to invite PomBot to the channel by clicking Invite them to join.

You then have two options. In this example, as it’s a new channel, we’re happy for PomBot to see the channel history so we clicked on Yes, show channel history.

If you’re successful, you should see PomBot added to the channel:

This time, when you enter the command @pombot help, you should get the following response.

The commands are straightforward: everyone says what they’re going to work on, then you start the timer! First, though, if you did not invite other people when you created the channel, you need to do so. Let’s invite others to this private channel.

Now, both you and your team member(s) need to send an i will statement to pombot — e.g. @pombot i will update the slide deck. If PomBot recognizes what you’ve entered, it will confirm what you’re working on:

When everyone has entered what they’re going to be working on during the next sprint, you can instruct PomBot to start the timer by entering @pombot start:

At any point you can type @pombot status to discover how long you have left, and who is working on what:

PomBot will give you a five-minute warning, and then let you know when the timer has elapsed:

If, for whatever reason you need to stop the timer before the end of the 25 minutes, the simply enter @pombot stop. Note that this stops the timer for everyone, not just for you. According to the Pomodoro Technique guidance, you should make a note of distractions, unless they’re serious enough to abandon the whole sprint.

So, there we go! A way to work with your team no matter where they are in the world, using a friendly Slack bot.

GSD: Tips and Tricks is brought to you by Xero, the cloud accounting software solution for your small business. With Xero, you can log in anytime, anywhere to get a real-time view of your cash flow and manage your books. Start your free 30-day trial today.

Leave a Reply