Study Tips

Mastering The Pomodoro Technique

Over time we strive to find better ways to nurture our brains and make them better adapted to learning.
Today, we look at a time management method used to break down work into intervals separated by breaks.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management philosophy that aims to provide the user with maximum focus and creative freshness, thereby allowing them to complete the project faster with less mental fatigue. The technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. The word “pomodoro” is derived from Italian, translating to tomato. Cirillo used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato as his personal timer.

Keys to Mastering It

For your reading process, you budget your time into short increments and take breaks periodically. You should read for 25 minutes (called a “pomodoro”), then take a break for five minutes.

At the conclusion of four pomodoros, (100 minutes of work time not including the 15 minutes of break time), you proceed to take a 15-20 minute break.

With every pomodoro you finish, mark your progress with an “X”, and note the number of times you had the impulse to procrastinate or switch gears to work on another task for each 25-minute period of time.

pomodoro method

Pros and Cons

According to the official Pomodoro website, the technique is not just about helping you get things done today; it’s about learning how you work so you can save time in the future.

Firstly, the method enables you to cut down on interruptions. In this case you can take 25 minutes before replying to your Whatsapp messages or checking your Facebook notifications. You will learn how to handle the inevitable interruption while staying focused on the task at hand.

Furthermore, you are more capable of estimating the effort required for various tasks. With enough practice, you’ll be able to accurately predict how many pomodoros it will take to accomplish future tasks.

The pomodoro technique is a tool that can be used to reach your own objectives. For example, if a writer realizes he or she is using too much time for revising, they can adjust their timetable to allow for more brainstorming time.

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However, the method isn’t without its critics.

Colin T. Miller, a blogger, tried out the technique and found some negative aspects to it.

“Pomodoros are an all or nothing affair. Either you work for 25 minutes straight to mark your X or you don’t complete a pomodoro. Since marking that X is the measurable sign of progress, you start to shy away from engaging in an activity if it won’t result in an X. For instance, managers love meetings. I think it is some sort of ambrosia to them to have people sit in a room together bored out of their mind as they rant about things that they think are important. Meetings get in the way of pomodoros. Say I have a meeting set for 4:30pm. It is currently 4:10pm, meaning I only have 20 minutes between now and the meeting. If I start a pomodoro, I won’t be able to finish it because I only have 20 minutes. Managers will come by your desk and poke you to go to the meeting at the exact time the meeting is supposed to start, so I can’t just show up 5 minutes late. In these instances I tend to not start a pomodoro because I won’t have enough time to complete it anyway. I try to fill up the time with administration tasks like catching up on email or organizing, but sometimes I honestly just end up reading blogs.”

Quick Applications

The method enables students improve their reading speed, track assignments, write papers, and break down large tasks (like drafting a research paper) into smaller steps

Teachers can also use it to structure classroom time, give students a mental break between lesson plans and to correct papers.

Parents can teach children how to do a work Pomodor (for example cleaning their toys) followed by a fun Pomodoro (for example reading a book out loud or drawing), and also spend a Pomodoro on focused housework. For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), parents can give their children breaks between Pomodoros so that they can let out their energy.

See Also: Perfectionalism: Stop Obsessing About Being Perfect.