Want to supercharge your study time? Let me introduce you to the Pomodoro technique. I had a tough time studying while in college. I could barely go a few minutes without distractions and struggled to remember anything afterward. This all changed when I adopted studying in short 25-minute bursts.
At that point, it seemed like a light bulb went off and I became this study machine that could now do 2-3 hours comfortably. So from a personal perspective, I can say this works especially if you usually have the same issue I faced – struggling to focus and study.
In this post, we’d look at some vital information about the Pomodoro technique and how you too can use it to power your study life.
What exactly is the Pomodoro technique?
The word Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. In the 1980s, a student, Francesco Cirrilo devised a method to better help him manage his time while studying. He used a popular tomato-shaped kitchen timer to do this. Since then, Francesco has gone on to release a popular book on the subject and short courses, teaching countless people around the world.
You can check out his book on the subject, The Pomodoro Technique.
How does the Pomodoro Technique work?
There’s more to the Pomodoro method than just doing focused work for some minutes. It includes the following steps:
- Set a time for 25 minutes
- While working, quickly note any distractions that pop into your mind
- When the alarm buzzes, note you’ve completed one Pomodoro
- Take a five-minute break
- After four Pomodoros and breaks, take a 30-minute break.
Of course, this is a condensed version and a good summary of how it works. The great thing about this technique is that it works for just any type of work not just studying.
Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique
- Breaks goals into actionable chunks
A big goal such as “Finish term paper” may seem big and vague. However breaking into Pomodoro sessions such as “Research journals”, and “write chapter one [draft]” instantly makes the work more approachable.
- Takes care of your body
Sometimes, we get so carried away with studying we forget to take a walk, drink water, or move our eyes away from the laptop screen.
The five-minute breaks are a good time to give our body a much-needed rest. Please don’t spend this time watching bloopers on YouTube.
- Helps you do more focused work
The Pomodoro session puts your mind in a frame to want to limit all forms of distractions. Use this to your advantage.
- Helps with your planning and scheduling
With the Pomodoro technique, you can better plan your study schedule in line with your other daily activities.
How to study using the Pomodoro Technique
Now we know how it works, how can we study using the Pomodoro Technique? I’ll split this part into three parts – before, during and after the Pomodoro session.
- Getting prepared to use the Pomodoro technique
In this stage, you gather all supplies, study materials, and resources. You also have to set your goal for that study session.
Remember your study session requires deep focus so you want to reduce movements and distractions as much as possible. After this is done, you set time to the limit you want (the most popular being 25 minutes)
- What you do during the Pomodoro session
Focus on the task before you. Should it suddenly occur to you to do something else, note it down somewhere to revisit later.
This ensures your mind is 100% on the work in front of you. It’s only for 25 minutes and you’ll have some break time.
- After Pomodoro session(s)
Take a short break (usually five minutes) or more depending on your Pomodoro session length. As much as possible avoid falling back to YouTube or other distractions that can suck you in. Take a walk, or talk to someone briefly and return.
At the end of your total sessions, reflect on how much was accomplished, how to tackle any distractions that occurred in the future, and what to do during your next study time.
Also, reward yourself with a treat for making time to study.
Is Pomodoro always 25 minutes?
Good question. The popular convention is to do a task for 25 minutes and personally, this works just fine. 25 minutes isn’t too stretched to discourage you from starting the job, but long enough to do substantial, focused work.
That being said, there are others who have adopted a more flexible Pomodoro time (50 mins work and 10-minute breaks, 15-minute work/5-minute breaks). Try which one works best for you. The end goal is to be able to do focused work, achieve the goals of the task and have time to rest.
Should I stop studying when the Pomodoro session is up?
Yes and no. I’ll explain.
Francesco Cirrilo says you should stop and observe breaks once the session is up. I think this can be a bit different for some of us. There are times when you’re about to get the solution to a math problem or conclude an essay.
You’re in a state of flow, so to speak.
Breaking off at this point may take you some time to warm into it again. If you’re in a state of flow, tt least try to finish at the closest milestone but don’t overdo it. That’s what I think about this or what do you think? Hit me up in the comments!
How to deal with distractions during Pomodoro sessions
Put your phone away or use Do-not-disturb.
Phones are major distraction points, so once you do this you’re halfway there. Also, avoid noisy environments, put off the TV/radio, and have everything you need at arm’s reach.
Another alternative is to get noise-canceling headphones and play some study music. There are lo-fi, study music playlists you can play. I recently learned to work to the sound of rain or nature. Pretty soothing I’d say.
Why do I have to note down distracting thoughts?
Think of this as exporting the thought from your brain memory to paper or notepad. You instantly free that brain space of the distraction and can focus on the task before you.
After your Pomodoro session(s), you can then review the notes if to pursue them in the next session or discard them.
What timer is the best for Pomodoro?
Frankly, there are so many options when it comes to Pomodoro timers. Any alarm clock will serve just fine, hardware or software.
You can even use the good old tomato-shaped kitchen timers.
However, there are a ton of Pomodoro timer apps on PC and mobile with their own perks and user interfaces. I’ll do a deeper dive into some of the best Pomodoro applications you can use.
Personally, I use Goodtime Productivity app. It’s free, lightweight (less than 4MB), and with an easy interface. Previously, I used Forest which is a fun way to Pomodoro – it gamifies your Pomodoro sessions into plants or trees. So each completed session is a fully grown plant. Nice.
Is the Pomodoro technique good for me?
I know it’s helped me in my studies and I highly recommend it. Regardless, I understand we all have our personal habits or way of doing things to get results.
I will however recommend trying it to see if it suits you. You can tweak it a bit to suit your peculiar case. It must not be the exact way it is in the book, but good enough to help you study efficiently.
The Pomodoro technique remains a popular technique for time management and works productivity today. If anything, it’s worked for me so I know it’s a great productivity hack for any student to try.