Did you know that the most effective tool to help you study might just be a tomato?
Some of you may know that ‘pomodoro’ is the Italian word for ‘tomato.’ So many of you may now be wondering, “what does a tomato have to do with me studying?”
The answer is, technically, nothing. That is unless your tomato is a kitchen timer.
The key to becoming more productive, is to simply make better use of your time using a kitchen timer. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but by using the Pomodoro Technique, all you have to do is to be able to focus on a task for 25 minutes at a time.
25 solid uninterrupted minutes.
No goofing off, no distractions, and no other tasks - however pertinent they may be.
To start with, decide on the task that is to be done. Whether it is reading a chapter in a book, doing research, or writing an essay, then try and estimate how long it will take you to finish the task. Break that task down into 25-minute increments. These increments are referred to as ‘pomodori.’
For example, you may estimate that reading a chapter in a book could take you 1.5 hours. That equates to 3.6 pomodori.
So take out your Task List, and write down the date, and the task, and set your timer (wether it’s the official for 25 minutes. Now go to work! Don’t get distracted, just concentrate on the task at hand - it’s only for 25 minutes.
Then when the timer goes off, mark your Task List with an ‘X’ in the ‘Pomodori’ column. That’s it - you’ve completed one pomodoro!
Now set the timer to 5 minutes, and for five minutes do some stretches, or put on a load of laundry, make a cup of tea, or rock out with a song on the radio! Simply spend 5 minutes away from your study area doing something totally unrelated to study.
When the 5 minute timer goes off, plant your butt back in the chair, set the timer for another 25 minutes, and get back to work, and repeat this for as long as it takes to finish reading the chapter in your book (or whatever your chosen task is).
But if you get sidetracked, or interrupted in the middle of your pomodori, it doesn’t count. You don’t get to put an ‘X’ on your Task List, and you have to reset the timer for another 25 minutes. So it might be worth putting the phone on silent, or turning it off completely.
Every four pomodori, you can take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Then finally, when you are done, you will have a better understanding of how long it takes you to complete the task, and you will be better able to estimate and manage your time studying.
There are also online resources that can help you keep time and keep focussed. There are videos of a pomodoro timer that count down 25 minutes or 5 minutes. Or if the constant ticking of the timer is too anxiety inducing, there is a pomodoro thunderstorm soundscape timer.
And of course, there are several different pomodoro related applications for your smart phone that you can discover for yourself.
The other key ingredient you will need is a task list. Thankfully, here's one we prepared earlier: An OCA Task List for you to print off and use.
Now you have everything you need.
"But why a tomato?" You might still be asking yourself.
In the late 1980’s, a university student, Francesco Cirillo, came up with an effective way to study in intervals using a kitchen timer. The specific kitchen timer he owned just happened to be shaped like a tomato.
So now you know! All that you need to stay focussed, and get your work done, is a tomato - or at least a tomato shaped timer. Or any kind of timer!
There's no more excuses. Set your timer for 25 mintues now, and see just how easy it is to get some study done!
- Work Efficiency