There’s just so much to see and do all at once!
You can blame ADD or Twitter, but the reality is that focusing is hard for most people.
Whether it is for a test, for studying or for just normal life, learning how to focus is well worth it.
Fortunately, the Pomodoro Technique is a handy little study tip to help you learn how to focus, and it’s pretty easy to learn, too.
Pomodoro History (the boring stuff)
First, a little background. The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the 1980s by a man named Francesco Cirillo. He was a university student who stumbled across the idea while trying to improve his own study habits. The timer he used originally was in the shape of a tomato, hence the name – “pomodoro” is Italian for tomato.
How the Pomodoro Technique works (the good stuff)
Set an alarm for 25 minutes. Use an old-fashioned kitchen timer, if you like, to keep to the spirit of good ol’ Francesco.
Actually, a lot of folks prefer using a mechanical timer (as opposed to an app, for example) because the physical motions involved put the brain into focus mode.
Also, the ticking noise helps keep you on track.
Anyway, for the duration of those 25 minutes, you FOCUS.
If you are interrupted, pause the timer and deal with the distraction as quickly as possible. This can be as simple as saying, “Hey, can I call you back in 14 minutes? I’m in the middle of a Pomodoro.”
Your friends will be confused but so will telemarketers.
If something pops into your head – a distraction – just jot down what it is so you don’t forget to do it, and keep working.
25 minutes are up, your alarm rings and congratulations you’ve done a Pomodoro. Put a small check mark or x on a piece of paper and take a 5 minute break. I tend to cheat a bit and go closer to 7 minutes. But no more than ten! You’ll lose focus.
Make sure you force yourself to stop at the end of the Pomodoro, even if you’re in the middle of writing a sentence. This is important!
It’s also annoying as heck, but that’s part of the idea. It’ll help you get right back into the swing of things on your next Pomodoro.
Every four Pomodoros, take a longer break of about 20 minutes.
That’s pretty much it for the Pomodoro Technique.
Told you it was easy.
Of course, you can get into it a lot more – there’s an official book out there and you can also buy the official tomato-shaped timer!
The whole idea here is that you learn how to focus fiercely on your work for just long enough to get really into it, but not so long your brain gets tired. The breaks are similar: not so short they’re pointless but not so long you lose focus.
Go ahead and give the Pomodoro technique a shot. I’ve found it hugely useful for when I really need to focus and I think you will too.
If you want more ideas and help on how to get started studying, as well as a step-by-step checklist, head on over to this post: How to Start Studying.
What do you think?
What are some things you’ve done to help yourself focus? Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique or any other study tips? How’d it work out for you? Tell me in the comments below!
Get a Pomodoro Tracker worksheet!
I made a printable worksheet to helps you track your Pomodoros and what you get done during them. Just pop in your email and I'll send it right to you.
Best of all? You'll also get daily emails with helpful tips and advice. 🙂
Image by Erato via Wikimedia Commons