Govind M., the Stanford grad student who recommended brown noise, has good things to say about magic dots:
I have been using magic dots for about two months now and they work. I have no idea why they work — maybe it’s the reinforcement — but they do. I enjoy making them and for me, I have to finish them. I use 9 min/mark for 90 min intervals, which also provides a very easy way to track time. A four box day is enormously productive, though the fourth box typically gets torpedoed by a meeting or something.
One of the advantages of magic dots is that instead of setting down an intimidating 90-minute chunk of time, my mental horizon is shortened to the next 9 minutes. After that, the box takes over. So in situations in which (1) it is difficult to get started and (2) I want to add structure to the day, I use magic dots.
I asked, “When you are using the magic dots, do you work for longer periods of time before taking a break?” Govind said:
Yes. However, it is possible that goal gets shifted from “be focused and attentive and not goofing off on facebook” to “work long enough make 10 marks on a piece of paper.” It makes it easier to start and to continue on working.
I too find that magic dots make it easier to start work. I think this happens because the task in front of me (getting work done) seems more doable.