Studying Better: The Tomato Technique

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Have you ever been mad at yourself for procrastination? Have you ever wished that you could get your work done in a shorter period of time? The good news is that there is a time management technique that can aid you in staying focus on your work. One popular way of managing time is applying the “Pomodoro Technique” to study.

This technique was invented in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo in effort to improve his study habits at the university. He applied his technique using a tomato shaped mechanical timer. For this reason, he named this technique “pomodoro”, the Italian word for a tomato.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time blocking system. The idea behind time blocking is that you use the clock to your advantage rather than racing against it. Time blocking works based on the principal of Parkinson’s Law.  According to the Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In order words, the more time you give the project, the more time it takes for you to complete it. For example, if you calculated that it will take you 2 weeks to do a book report, it will take you the entire 2 weeks to do your book report. The reality of the situation is that it might be possible to complete it in 8 hours. So the way to combat Parkinson’s Law is by manufacturing artificial deadlines which brings to light the “Pomodoro Technique”.

The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique not only allows you to make better use of your time to get your tasks faster, but it also makes your work more effective since it forces you to take breaks to eliminate burnout. By taking breaks periodically, your mind stays fresh and it’s easier to focus on your task.

Unlike other activities such as losing weight, you will see the results of the pomodoro technique immediately. If you are not currently using any productivity techniques, please do yourself a favor and try this out on your next project. There is no reason not to, since the rules are simple and easy to remember. In fact, there are only six steps to follow:

  1. Remove all distractions
  2. Choose a focus task
  3. Set the timer to 25 minutes
  4. Work on the task until the timer rings.
  5. Take a 5 minute break
  6. Take a longer break (15-20 minutes) every four session

When using a Pomodoro Technique, it’s a good idea to first estimate the time needed to complete your project. Based on this information, you are able to figure out how many “pomodoros” (a time period of 25 minutes) you need. This technique doesn’t have rules regarding the type of breaks you take. Your break may consist of eating, using the bathroom, stretching, exercising, or looking outside. However, it is recommended that you use your breaks as an opportunity to move away from your desk and get your blood flowing. After all, sitting for several hours is bad for your health.

Even though many people find this technique effective, there are some things to look out for. This technique works best when you are studying or are working on a long ask. However, you may be working on a task that a longer psychological flow of thought such as computer programming. For those activities in which longer thought time is needed, set your “pomodoro” for 50 minutes and take breaks for 10 minutes.  So, manage your study time by managing your “tomatoes”!

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