Getting Homework Done with the Pomodoro Technique

Was one of your new year’s resolutions to be more efficient with your time? It’s a common one, and so we thought we’d kick off the year with Productivity Monday, offering a new productivity hack each week to help you do your homework more efficiently.  This week we explore: The Pomodoro Technique.

pomodoro techniqueWhat it is: The Pomodoro Technique is a way to plan your work that will help you stay focused for a set period of time. Chances are many of you do your homework this way, without even knowing that it had a fancy name. The technique is named after the Italian word for tomato, and was developed by Italian Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It has been heralded by students and professionals alike as a low-tech, easy, but effective way to stay productive.

How it works: Its secret is in its simplicity. First you list out all the homework you have to do and then you divide it into 25-minute segments. You could even make one of your Pomodoros a session with a  tutor! The Pomodoro Technique is based on working solidly for those 25 minutes then taking a five-minute break. After four “Pomodoros,” (that’s what they call each segment), you have earned a longer 15-minute break. Ground-breaking? Not necessarily, but it is marvelously effective! Each time you finish a Pomodoro, you cross it off — everyone’s favorite part of a to-do list

Who it’s best for: The Pomodoro Technique has four main benefits:

  • It’s great for those who have trouble getting started on an assignment in the first place because it puts parameters on your effort. You can tell yourself you don’t have to write this report endlessly, or work on chemistry all evening – just that you will do it for 25 minutes. It’s surprising how much easier it is to jump in when you know you have an ending point. You can do ANYTHING for 25 minutes!
  • It will help you stay on task by ensuring you don’t get sidetracked. Sometimes when you’re reading, you start thinking “I forgot to finish my math worksheet!” If the timer wasn’t on, you might be tempted to flip to your math textbook just to knock out those problems. By the time you returned to your reading, you would have lost your train of thought, and it would take an incremental period of time to pick it back up – time that is essentially wasted. The Pomodoro Technique forces you to stay on task, since you know there’s only a set period of time and then you can work on something else.
  • It rewards you with frequent breaks. Five minutes is the perfect period of time to grab a snack or do a quick tech scan. Just be sure you set the timer for your break’s ending time – and adhere to it.
  • It provides a structured way for you to schedule your work and can help you work even faster than you thought you could. The Pomodoro Technique is perfect for people who find their time consumed a la Parkinson’s Law, which says that “Work expands to fill the time available.” Making less time available can often spur you to be far more efficient to get the task completed in the time allotted.

How to get started: You just need a timer! Whether it’s on the stove, your watch or your phone. Then make your list and dive in!

Read more about the Pomodoro Technique here.

Why don’t you try it for a week, and let us know how it works on our Facebook page!

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