Together, Steve Lydford and I came up with a way to work that we don't think has been put to paper before.
The Pomodoro technique is a great way to keep you focused, alone, in a pair, in a mob or in a meeting room. By setting a 25-minute timer and a goal, you can help ensure you're keeping on the right track and taking frequent breaks.
It works pretty effectively, but it's not as fun as we'd like. Our substitute doesn't work in a pair, but when you're on your own, try this:
Put your headphones on.
Pick an album. A full-length one.
Find your favourite song on that album. Remember it.
Start from the beginning of the album. Hit play, and get to work.
Now, when your favourite song comes on, stop what you're doing. Close your eyes. Imagine they're playing to you and your best friend at the Royal Albert Hall. Play your air drums; swing your head to the tune. Relax, absorb and enjoy.
And when it finishes, pause the music, get up from your desk and walk around for a minute or two. Maybe get a coffee.
At the end of the album, take a ten-minute break. When you get back to work, pick another album.
Simple, right? I bet you do it half the time without even thinking when you're coding on your own (or reading a book or mowing the lawn, for that matter). By making it explicit, you'll go one step further and enshrine it. You don't have to feel guilty about it. Instead, you should feel amazing.