Getting distracted and procrastination is one of the most common obstacles every student encounters. So many of you have told me that you are struggling with procrastination, and you really want to know how to focus better.
I have been searching for the key to productivity for so long, and the Pomodoro method is honestly a life-changer. This is the one time management method that I can actually stick to, and it is the one that has helped so many people out there.
Because of how powerful this time management technique is, I really want to share it with you and let you know how it can change your productivity.
In this tutorial, you will be able to find the underlying principles of the method, the benefits of it, how you can implement it, and most important, some tools that can help you use this method.
You will also get a free daily task planner printable that helps you better implement the tips I mentioned in this tutorial. Remember to take all the awesome tips and also the printable with you!
The Principles of the Pomodoro Technique
This technique was first developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. He first invented this method when he uses a tomato-shaped timer to track his work when he was a university student.
The technique is very simple. Here are the few steps of the method:
- Plan and decide what tasks you have to work on.
- Set a timer to 25 minutes, and work on the task until the timer rings.
- Take a 5-minute short break.
- Get back to work for another 25 minutes.
- After working for four 25-minute work session, take a 25-minute long break.
Sounds fairly simple, right? Now let’s get into the details of every step.
Step #1: Planning
Before you start working right away, you should first start planning your tasks. Identifying things you need to know and prioritizing your tasks can make a huge difference in your productivity.
- Gather a list of things you need to do. You can write it down on a piece of paper or planner, or you can use a to-do app. All you have to do is to make it clear to yourself what needs to be done during the day.
- Then, you will need to prioritize your tasks. This is the step that helps you manage all the tasks and decide what which task should come first.
How to prioritize your tasks?
Prioritizing tasks mean that you can waste less effort on unimportant tasks, and place more focus on the urgent and important ones. When prioritizing your tasks, you need to look at the following information:
- Importance: for homework, that would be the weighting of the assignment
- Consequences: what would happen if you complete or not complete that task?
- Time required: how much time do you need to do this task?
This evaluation would help you understand whether you actually need to do the task. Next, you will have to prioritize the things you need to do. When doing so, you can try to look at the urgent/important matrix. After you have categorized your task as important/urgent/unimportant/not urgent, you can then give an order to the tasks according to this sequence.
- Urgent + Important
- Important but not urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important
If you have got a few tasks in the same category, and you’re not sure how you can prioritize them, try taking into account of how urgent the tasks are, or how much time it would require you to accomplish them.
Step #2: Set the Pomodoro Timer for 25 Minutes and Get Ready for Work
Okay, so now you have a to-do list on hand, and it’s time for you to start working. The key of this work session is that you have to completely focus on your task. Yes, no phones, no social medias, no distractions. At all.
That seems difficult, doesn’t it? That’s why the work session is set for 25 minutes. It helps make you focus in a short period of time, and just right when your attention span ends, you can have a short break.
In my previous post 3 Powerful Brain Hacks to Help You Focus in Class, I told you that your brain can’t multitask. Even when your phone rings and you pick up the call, or just read the text notification, your brain is interrupted and you will have re-establish the focus to get back to work again. This guest post also tells you Why Multitasking Is Bad For You And How To Stop It.
How should I prepare for a work session?
- Turn off your wifi if your work doesn’t require internet access
- Turn on airplane mode for your phone and any other electronic devices
- Put everything that can distract you out of your reach (even if it’s your planner)
- Prepare everything you need for the tasks you want to work on
Pro tip: adjust the time according to your attention span
While 25-minute work session may work perfectly for some people, others may find it too short or too long for a work session. Everybody works differently, and everyone has a different attention span.
So why not adjusting the Pomodoro technique to suit your style? The next time you use this method, try to set the timer for 25 minutes and see if you can focus all the way. If you can, try adding a little bit more time to the work session and see how long you can focus on the task.
By adjusting the time, you are maximizing your productivity and working a way that best suits your style.
Step #3: Time to focus!
Now it’s time for work! Remember, during one Pomodoro session, make sure to focus on one task. Having too many tasks in your mind may not be helpful when doing so.
And, make sure you do have a timer with you. While looking at your clock may work, having a timer can better motivate you, and give you the sense of urgency to work on your task. You can also use some of the apps I recommend later.
The key of the work session is to avoid all distractions. When you have some distracting thoughts or ideas relating to other tasks or work) instead of working on that immediately during the work session, write it down on a post-it note and go back to it later.
Step #4: Take a Short Break
After the work session, you can take a short break of 5 minutes so that you can focus again after the break. I’ve heard students telling me that they find it very difficult to get back to work once they are on a break. To solve this problem, you will need to change the things you do during the break.
During the short break, you can:
- Drink a glass of water
- Grab some snacks
- Walk around and move your body a bit
- Close your eyes and take your time to have a rest without doing anything
As you can tell, all the things I mentioned above require no more than 5 minutes. You can easily do that within the 5-minute break, and it wouldn’t be much of a struggle for you to stop doing those things and get back to work.
However, when you choose to use your phones or go on social media during the break, you may find it very difficult to stop using them after 5 minutes. Maybe your friend wants to talk to you. Or maybe you just discovered a huge gossip on Twitter. Then you go on and on without even noticing that you break time has ended, which is probably why you end up procrastinating for the whole day.
Step #5: Repeat
Most of your assignments or study tasks can’t be completed within 25 minutes, that’s why you may need to need to repeat the work sessions.
When planning the tasks, you can set a goal for yourself to make yourself complete a task within a particular number of Pomodoros. Let’s say if you are studying for a biology test, you can make a list like this by assessing the difficulty of each chapter and how familiar you are with each topic.
- Chapter 1: 3 sessions
- Chapter 2: 5 sessions
- Chapter 6: 4 sessions
After making this list, you can then set your timer and check a box each time you completed one session. After three sessions, you should have finished studying chapter 1. You can then have a long break and come back to study for 5 work sessions for chapter 2.
Step #6: Long Break
After around 4 work sessions, you have worked for almost 2 hours. It’s a good time to take a long break to refresh your mind. Again, it is a better option to go for activities that are not addicting and wouldn’t cost you much time. On top of the things you can do during short breaks, you can also use the time to review your progress and to check whether you are on the right track.
The Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique
You can probably tell that this time management technique is very effective in motivating you and helping you overcome procrastination. In case you are not convinced, here are the benefits of this technique.
1. The Pomodoro Technique Motivates You to Start Working
The Pomodoro technique is awesome because it can actually motivate you and get you started on working. The reason why a lot of us procrastinate is because we tend to turn away from tasks that are difficult, and that are not easy to complete. When we have a big test ahead, we constantly tell ourselves how difficult it is to study for this exam, and how the studying is never going to end. This thought just makes us feel stressed, and then we choose to procrastinate instead of working.
However, with the Pomodoro technique, it redefines your tasks. Studying for your exam is no longer one huge chunk of things that you need to do. Instead, it is broken down into actionable work sessions. The tasks seem to be more specific, concrete, and most importantly, more rewarding since you will get to have short breaks after a short work session. As such, you are more likely to start working on the task. Once you get started, working doesn’t seem to be that difficult.
2. It helps you better manage and plan your time
Do you know that we all tend to underestimate the amount of time we need for each task? However, with the Pomodoro technique, it changes your conception of time. Instead of roughly estimating the time you need for each task, you can now measure your time for each task according to the number of small time blocks. This can also encourage you to work effectively and finish your task according to your goal.
3. It allows you to understand your productivity
Using the Pomodoro technique also means that you can track your time and see how many work sessions you can do during the day. It helps evaluate whether you complete the most tasks in the morning, afternoon or evening so that you can better utilize your most productive hours to work.
By using the Pomodoro technique, you can also understand how much effort you need for each task, and how much time you spend on them.
4. It helps you avoid fatigue
The Pomodoro time management technique also helps to avoid fatigue. When you don’t have a timer with you, you not only tend to get distracted and procrastinate, you may also work for long hours ineffectively. However, by having a good number of breaks in between work, you can stay refreshed and motivated throughout the day.
Time Management App Recommendations
There are so many awesome apps out there that make use of the Pomodoro technique to help you boost productivity. Here, I am introducing some of the best Pomodoro apps!
- Focus Keeper (iOS): this is the one I use personally. I love how simple and clean it looks and how it logs my productivity and analyze it with charts. This app allows you to customize the sound and the time for each work session.
- Tide (iOS): if you are the person who wants to have some background music or sound when working, this app is the perfect combination of background sound and the Pomodoro method.
- Forest (Android): This is another great app that allows you to customize your time for each work session. When you start a work session, you plant a seed and it will gradually grow into a tree. However, when you exit the app and use your phone, you will kill the tree. This helps you to stay focus on your work during the work session.
- ClearFocus (Android): ClearFocus is an app that’s very similar to Focus Timer, with great functionality, clean interface, and tracking and logs of your productivity.
- Tomatoid (web app): want to use a web app instead? This one has a clear timer, and it also keeps track of a list of tasks you worked on.
Download this Free Daily Task Planner Printable!
To help you better implement the Pomodoro method and guide you to prioritize your tasks, I have created a printable planner for you!
All you have to do is to spend 10 minutes every morning, print this pdf out, and identify the tasks that need to be completed today. Write them down by putting them into the different categories of tasks.
Then, prioritize your tasks and write them in the corresponding order. Estimate the time needed for each task and set yourself a goal to complete each task within a certain number of pomodoros.
As you completed one pomodoros, tick one box and have a short break.
At the end of the day, count the number of pomodoros you have done and write it down on the goal section to see if it matches your expectation. This helps to evaluate your progress and your productivity of the day.
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