A New Jersey patent attorney named Jim D writes:
I’ve been using the magic dots as you described, marking a dot or line every six minutes. I use an online timer with an audible tone every six minutes. A portion of my work requires focus, as I have to review, compare and contrast technical documents. I’ve historically had limited ability to focus for extended periods of time. I’ve used an online bar graph countdown timer, but even with the visual feedback of the bar graph counting down, the longest I could go without a short break was 20 minutes. I’ve also tried online Pomodoro timers, with alternating work and break periods, but again, the longest I could go without a break was 20 minutes.
In contrast, by using the magic dots method, I can easily focus for 60 minutes. I’ve been working for 60 minutes until the box is completed, and then taking a short break before starting another 60 minute box. After a few more weeks, I will see if I can extend the focus length for a longer period of time. (As an aside, I wonder if completing an entire “box” is psychologically important, and, if so, would a 90 minute “box” shape work better than continuing with consecutive 60 minute boxes?).
I don’t think finishing a box matters. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. A friend used a much different counting system; it also worked. After years of using six-minute intervals I have started to use five-minute intervals; they don’t interfere too much and shorter intervals are likely to be more powerful. I would like to compare different interval lengths but it is a difficult experiment to do.