Students worldwide use the Pomodoro technique to study more effectively while saving time.
You can use this powerful tool too. All you need to get started is a task and a timer.
What is the Pomodoro technique?
The Pomodoro technique is a time-management and productivity method developed in the 80s. The inventor, Francesco Cirillo, wanted to find a way to study more efficiently while he was in college. He watched the students around him and came up with an effective method, the Pomodoro Technique.
There are 6 steps to it:
- Before you start, write down and prioritize all the things you need to accomplish.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working on the first task.
- If a distraction arises while you are working, write it down on a piece of paper and go back to it later. Keep working.
- When the timer rings, you have finished a Pomodoro. Take a 5-minute break, then start another Pomodoro.
- Once you have finished four Pomodoro, take a 20-30 minute break.
- Repeat this cycle until all of your assignments are done, or the workday is over.
That’s all there is to it. You can adjust the times, but Cirillo recommends work intervals between 20-35 minutes in his Pomodoro Study.
During your Pomodoro cycles, focus on nothing but the task at hand and don’t allow interruptions. If you get interrupted, either reschedule whatever is interrupting you into the next break or abandon your Pomodoro cycle and start a new one afterward. This will help you stay focused and concentrated.
If your phone is a frequent distraction, turn it off or put it in airplane mode during your Pomodoro cycles. A study about the attentional costs of receiving a cell phone notification found that any notification, even if not interacted with, disrupts attention and significantly increases the probability of making errors during tasks.
If you notice that the whole writing things down on paper is too much for you to stick to the method, try this:
Only use the timer part of the Pomodoro Technique. Write nothing down, just start working, set the timer, and take a break after 25 minutes.
You’ll get most of the benefits with a much lower barrier of entry. I only got used to the technique using this simplified way.
If you want to, you can estimate how many Pomodoro cycles each task will take.
This will not only improve your planning skills but also make you value your time more. It can turn the whole working process into a bit of a game, where you’re trying to complete tasks in the goal you’ve set for them.
The flow state
The flow state is the time in which you are the most focused and productive. If you reach this state, turn the timer off. Frequent breaks will only interrupt your work and decrease your productivity. Once you finish the task you were working on or lose focus, take a break and resume using the technique.
Benefits of the Pomodoro technique
You can stay focused for longer
If you will be stuck working on a task for extended periods of time, the technique will help you stay focused. You can only focus on a task for limited periods of time and the frequent breaks allow you to reset your concentration.
Most noticeable is the difference in focus for tasks you do not enjoy, like studying or mundane work. Those tasks make it hard for you to enter a flow state and long sessions turn into a drag. The Pomodoro technique fixes that by turning breaks into a part of the process.
A good tip is to use a website like Tomato timer, which allows you to start the breaks and cycles automatically so you don’t forget them.
In today’s age, we are surrounded by small distractions. Every notification you get causes a small spike in stress hormones and breaks your focus for a split second.
Using the Pomodoro Technique allows you to limit all those distractions to your breaks and separate them from your working time.
Clear cut between work and breaks
Often, we find ourselves kind of focusing, but also kind of procrastinating. That mix of reading stuff you need for research and reading just a little bit longer for entertainment.
Pomodoro cycles are a great and clear cut way of separating productive work from everything else. To make this as effective as possible, listen to the timer. As soon as it rings, stop working, even if you haven’t finished the paragraph yet. The same goes for starting to work after a break.
Using the technique will make you more focused and therefore more productive. The difference is so noticeable that I often take more breaks while getting more done in less time than before.
This combination is great for stress-relief, too. You’ll have more time in your day for the things you enjoy.
Little-known facts about the Technique
- It takes time to adapt to it. As Francesco Cirillo writes in his study, it takes time to adapt to the technique and get the most out of it. Don’t be disappointed if you struggle the first few times or don’t seem to get many results.
- The technique is more than just a rough outline. Francesco Cirillo might have invented it while he went to college, but ever since it has evolved a lot. He taught it and still teaches it to thousands of individuals and teams. The feedback and research put into the Pomodoro Technique at this point is immense, and it is not to be underestimated, despite its simplicity.
- There’s more to it than described in this article and pretty much everywhere else. If you like the technique, I recommend reading the study on it, which goes into great detail on how to apply the technique in professional environments or with teams, and the planning aspects of it. Those are usually left out in articles for simplicity. You can find the full study for free here.
- It is not set in stone. If you think you can keep going, keep going. If you need a break, take a break. I recommend strictly sticking to the timers for the first two weeks of using the technique to develop a feeling for it. After this adaptation phase, you can follow your gut more.
Is the Pomodoro Technique really that effective?
The Pomodoro technique is underrated because it is so simple and involves so many breaks.
I found out about it when I first looked into how to concentrate for long periods of time. People mention it on every forum or article which deals with the topic.
Especially when you ask the people who have to be experts at focusing for a long time, like college students, you’ll see it recommended a lot.
So I want to challenge you to try it. Use it for whatever tasks you have to do this week and you’ll notice its benefits.
The Pomodoro Technique is best paired with effective breaks. If you want to learn how to take those, read this article: How to take effective breaks to enhance focus
As always, I would love to hear your experiences with Pomodoro and answer any questions. How did you find out about it? Please tell me in the comments below. Have a wonderful day!