📷Picture this: you’re racing against the clock, juggling a dozen tasks, and drowning in distractions. Now, what if I told you there’s a simple trick that can turn this chaos into a highly productive, even enjoyable, workday?
🍅 What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that involves working in 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks.
This method is effective if you struggle to manage your time and maintain focus for long stretches. By breaking your work or study sessions into smaller, timed batches, you can enhance productivity and complete your tasks without relying solely on willpower or motivation.
👣 Step-by-Step Guide
- Choose a single task to focus on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (might vary) and start working on your task.
- After 25 minutes take a short break (5minutes).
- Repeat steps 1–3 three to four times.
- Take a long break (15–30 minutes).
Let’s look at some examples of how you can use the Pomodoro Technique, irrespective of your current educational status.
- Studying for a test— Choose the topic you want to master and only allocate the Pomodoro stretches for that topic. Break it down into small chunks and start working. After 25 minutes take a small break but do not surf the web or use your mobile phone. This step is applicable to all the following examples. After three to four repetitions, take a longer break. You’ll be surprised to see how much content you’ve covered.
- Writing essays — Be clear about the topic of the essay. Work on whichever part of the essay you have to (intro/body) and after 25 minutes take a break. Avoid other cognitively challenging stuff like reading other articles for instance. Get back to work and repeat.
- Studying for O/A Levels (SSC/HSC) — Study 1–2 subjects every day. Decide on which subject and which topic to cover. Study the module for 25 minutes until the timer goes off. Take a 5-minute break and then continue from where you left off. Repeat until the module is complete. Take a long break if done within 3–4 sessions and then move on to the next subject if you plan to study.
- Completing a College Application — Choose which section to work on, for instance, personal statements or ECAs. Work until the timer goes off and go through what you’ve written in the break. Make changes if needed when the next session begins. Repeat the stretches until a sizeable portion is complete.
- Writing an academic paper — Choose which section to work on, such as the literature review, introduction, or body for example. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer goes off. Take a small break to go over the work you just did and make amends.
- Learning new hard skills — Choose a skill, like programming, to focus on. Determine your skill level—if you’re a beginner, start with the basics. Topics to cover may include data types, data structures, and basic syntax. Spend 25 minutes learning and applying these concepts, then take a short break before continuing.
👨💼Professionals and Self-Learners
- Working on a project — Choose which part of the project to work on. Let’s take data analysts as examples. The part may be data cleaning and preprocessing or making charts and graphs for the processed data. Spend 25 minutes working on the project until the alarm goes off. Take 5 minutes break and make changes to your work if needed.
- Learning a new skill — Select a skill to master, such as learning a new programming language or software. Identify specific reference materials to use for learning since not having a fixed/structured resource set might derail you from even getting started. Set a 25-minute timer and immerse yourself in learning until it rings.
🎨My Pomodoro Technique and Things to Remember
I initially began with 25-minute learning sessions but noticed that I could maintain focus for longer periods. Consequently, I extended my sessions to 45 minutes. I recommend starting with 25 minutes and adjusting as needed based on your concentration levels.
I complete three sessions before taking a long break. Typically, I conclude my study or work after these three sessions because I find that I am able to do very high-intensity work in this time frame. However, it’s important to note that this approach varies from person to person. The key focus should be on completing the work, rather than the number of hours spent behind the screen.
Things to remember:
✅Work/ Study in places with minimal distractions. You can only make the best use of this technique when you are not interrupted or bombarded with external cues.
✅Keep your phone away during the sessions. The sessions are very short and require a high level of focus to be effective. Breaking concentration and leaving attention residues go against the principles of the Pomodoro technique. (read my previous article on Deep Work to know more)
✅Be prepared before the sessions. Have light snacks and water or juice readily available near your workspace before you start. This will prevent you from losing focus due to unforeseen cues.
✅Be flexible. The Pomodoro technique is just a guideline. You don’t have to follow it to the dot. If you feel like you need an extra 10–15 minutes to finish your current topic of interest in the same session, just go for it!
✅Use a Pomodoro timer. I personally love Pomofocus and have been using it for the past couple of years.