The Pomodoro technique is an absolute life changer with its variations that can be easily adaptable to any study lifestyle. Used by over 2 million people, it is an effective strategy to become more productive and focused.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Created by an Italian man named Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that breaks up time into intervals to better allow for assimilation. The name is derived from the Italian word for tomato and stems from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer cirillo used in university. The original technique was as follows:
- Decide on the task to be completed
- Set the Pomodoro timer (25 minutes)
- Work on the task
- End work when the timer rings and place a checkmark on the task
- If you have fewer than 4 check marks, take a brief break (3-5 minutes) and then continue working
- After 4 intervals, take a longer break (15-30 minutes), reset the checkmark count to zero, and repeat
What are its Variations?
There are also variations to fit different study habits such as the 50/10 Pomodoro or the 90/extended Pomodoro. One of my personal favorites has to be a new technique created by YouTuber Josh Chen called the Animedoro which features 40-60 minutes for work for a 20-minute episode of your favorite show.
Problems with Pomodoro
While it is an effective technique, it does not come without its shortcomings. The original Pomodoro technique follows the flow of concentration and aims to reduce interruptions in focus and flow. A study done by the University of Michigan concluded that the average attention span of a student is 25 minutes. The problem with the Pomodoro technique comes in its limited break times, and strict schedule. It’s hard to utilize the technique effectively due to the lack of reward gained from such a minute break time. Having 3-5 minutes of break after 25 minutes of work hardly feels rewarding for most people and will most likely discourage someone from continuing on for 4 cycles. Furthermore, the strict schedule makes it hard to effectively gauge how long a task will take and if it will be completed within the time span or not. If the task is too easy and is completed quickly or is too difficult and goes over time, it creates a sense of disappointment for the individual.
How it Can Be Improved?
As mentioned by YouTuber Josh Chen, a method that can be applied to improve the Pomodoro technique is to follow the flow of concentration and be more flexible on the start and end times of each Pomodoro. Rather than leave a task incomplete after the initial Pomodoro interval ends, focus on completing the task and starting the break time afterward. The same can be said if the task is completed too early. Rather than waste time waiting for the Pomodoro to end, start another task and end the it after that task has been completed. If using the longer Pomodoro variations, it is beneficial to start reviewing or preparing your mindset 2-3 minutes before entering a Pomodoro to increase efficiency.