Do you find yourself struggling to properly concentrate or focus when studying? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting stuck into a revision session?
If you think that any mental barriers are getting in the way of your progress, the chances are that you need to seek out a new revision technique.
Luckily for you, the Save My Exams Revision Experts are taking over the blog this week to introduce you to one of their favourite time-management strategies for studying. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s recently soared in popularity as a WFH efficiency-boosting strategy. Read on to learn more about why it’s so powerful, and how you can implement it at home.
The Pomodoro Technique
The technique’s creator, Francesco Cirillo, first experimented with it when studying for his university exams in the 1980s. Frustrated by the pressures of deadlines and assignments, he developed the Pomodoro Technique as a way to work with time, instead of struggling against it.
The Italian-speakers amongst you may have noticed that ‘pomodoro’ means ‘tomato’ in Italian. So what’s the connection between the controversial fruit and a globally-popular study method?
Well, the name comes from the tomato shaped timer which Cirillo first used to measure his sessions. In the technique, each ‘package’ of study time is referred to as a ‘pomodoro’.
How to follow the technique
It’s extremely straightforward, low tech, and easy to get started.
This is what you need:
- A timer (don’t use your phone, it’s too distracting)
- A pencil
- Your study materials and resources
Here are the six steps to follow:
- Decide on the task to complete (for example, practicing solving quadratic equations)
- Set the timer to 25 minutes
- Get stuck in to the task (do not stop or change task)
- Stop when the timer rings
- Take a break of 3-5 minutes (get up from your desk, briefly check your phone if necessary, drink water)
Once you have completed three or four repetitions, you can take a longer break (we’d recommend 30 minutes: grab a snack or get outside for some fresh air).
- You still need to make sure that you have a revision plan and timetable, as these will ensure that you cover all the essential content. Head here to learn more about creating your timetable.
- At the start of each day, decide what you want to achieve in each of your pomodoros/ This will save you time during your breaks, as you’ll already know what you need to tackle in the next session.
- If you have time left over, use it to re-revise the content or to reflect on your progress. Don’t be tempted to stop early, as this will disrupt your flow.
- Pay attention to your natural patterns of productivity. For example, if you are a ‘morning person’, try to fit in your daily pomodoros before lunch time. If you are a ‘night owl’, sleep slightly later into the mornings so that you have more energy to complete your pomodoros in the evenings.
Why does it work?
Once you’ve mastered this technique, you can expect to achieve more, to feel more motivated to complete tasks, and to be less distracted during your study periods.
This is because the Pomodoro Technique hacks your brain to your advantage. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible. Having a definite goal delivers the urgency you need to be productive.
The frequent mini-breaks and changes in focus prevent mental fatigue, and helps keep things fresh and interesting.
You could even try using this method to complete chores around the house, or to work through your ‘to-do’ task list!
Want to explore the technique further?
All the information above should be enough for you to give this method a try, but if you’re interested and would like to learn even more, here are some resources for you:
WATCH this short YouTube video
DOWNLOAD one of these timer and tracker apps
READ the handy Cheat Sheet from Queen’s University
Have you tried using the Pomodoro Technique? Do you have any advice for fellow students, or questions for our team? Get in touch by sending us a direct message or by leaving a comment on our social media platforms (@SaveMyExams).
If you’re looking for more revision advice from our experts, you’ll find everything you need on our blog.