Pomodoro Technique for Studying: Why You Need to Apply This Right Now!

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 11, 2021

Close to a third of students fail during their freshman year of college. If you’re a freshman, don’t worry! One of the reasons that new college students struggle is that they don’t know how to keep up with their courses. 

When you transition from high school to university, you are solely responsible for your time and your studies. This can be a big transition, and the first step towards academic success in organizing your time. It is super important to have enough time set aside to study. The next step is learning an effective study method. One tool that can help you in all of your studies is the Pomodoro Technique.

 

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple and effective way to manage time for any kind of work, including studying. The basis of the technique is following a regular routine that alternates between work and breaks. This way, you can maximize your productivity without burning yourself out. 

To follow the technique, you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. The technique suggests you do four rounds of these, and then take a longer break of 15-20 minutes. 

One round of work followed by a break is called a Pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato. Why tomato? The technique’s name is inspired by tomato-shaped oven timers. You may have seen one of these at your grandparent’s house. Even though we all use our smartphones as timers, the unique name stands the test of time!

 

How Can You Use Pomodoro to Study?

Using the Pomodoro Technique for studying is easy. In short, all you do is choose what you need to study, slot it into one of the 25-minute work sessions, and take your scheduled breaks. 

person hiding behind books

If you want to get the most out of the technique, however, there is a little more to it than that. Let’s break down the Pomodoro Technique step by step to really see how and why it works.

 

Pomodoro Helps to Set Priorities 

Before you start studying, you have to know what you’re going to study. The average college student takes 4-5 courses, which means you have plenty to choose from. 

There are a few things to consider when deciding what your priorities are. Is one class coming up soon? Is there a class with the material you know you’ll need to spend some extra time with?

Maybe there is one class, in particular, that is giving you extra stress. These are good things to think about when you are deciding what to work on first.

 

Make a Plan using Pomodoro Technique 

Once you have figured out what you’re going to be studying, take a minute to write out your plan. Having a visual reminder of what you wanted to focus on will keep you on track during your study session.

person writing out a plan in a bed

Here is an example of what your study plan could look like:

Study Plan

  • Review psychology lecture notes
  • 5-minute break
  • Read psychology textbook (introduction + chapter 1)
  • 5-minute break
  • Study for test (textbook chapters 2-3)
  • 5-minute break
  • Study for test (textbook chapters 3-5)
  • 20-minute break 

After creating a plan, your study session feels a lot more manageable. It also makes it easy to see how often you get a break. Pretty encouraging! Now it’s time to get started.

 

Ready, Set, Study! 

The moment has arrived for you to crack open your books and start studying. Before that feeling of dread rises up at how much you have to do, or how hard school is, try and take a breath.

Look at the first item on your list and focus only on that. Think of it as 25 minutes of freedom: the freedom to focus on just one thing. 

Follow your plan, using whatever study tools you find work best for you. This could be simple note-taking, making a mind map, or creating a quiz on index cards. Before you know it, it will be time for a break. You will be surprised by how efficient this method is!

 

Distractions Happen 

As you use the Pomodoro Technique more and more, you will find it easier to maintain your focus. Until you have some practice, the truth is that you will get distracted.

Instead of being hard on yourself for not having a laser focus, create some strategies for curbing distraction. If you are able to easily get back to work, you will succeed with the Pomodoro Technique. 

What might distract you when you are studying? You probably guessed it already, but the biggest distraction will be your phone. When surveyed, nearly half of undergraduate students reported that technology was a distraction from their learning. Luckily, there are some quick solutions to eliminating this distraction. Some options are: 

  • Turning your phone off or putting it far away from your desk

  • Turning on ‘Do Not Disturb’ or airplane mode

  • Turning off notifications for social media apps that you are more tempted to check

 

All of these will remove interruptions in your focus caused by notifications popping up, and allow you to continue studying. That’s helpful, but what if the thing distracting you is your own thoughts

This is where we get a little old-fashioned. If you find that your mind tends to wander, or if you worry about forgetting something for later, keep a pencil and paper beside you. Whenever you think of something you don’t want to forget, write it down.

Then, when you have completed your work session, you can look over what you have written down and see if you need to change your work plan. If what you wrote down can be saved for a later date, you can record it on a calendar as a reminder. 

By making a note for later, you are using the least amount of time during your study time for the unrelated task. You are also freeing up the mental energy that was being used on trying to remember or work through something else. More time and more energy? That’s what every student dreams of! 

 

Why Should You Use Pomodoro Technique While Studying? 

By now you have learned that the Pomodoro Technique can boost your productivity, but what other benefits are there? Here are a few positive impacts that the technique can have on your life as a student.

 

Work Toward Concrete Goals

Without a plan, studying is a very open-ended task. There is no clear endpoint, so it is It’s hard to see the finish line. This is because you can always study more.

If you are worried about your grades, it can be hard to know when to stop. This can lead to overworking yourself to the point where you aren’t retaining any information. 

Instead of reading your textbook until your eyes can’t focus anymore, you can set goals for your studying. You do this as part of the Pomodoro Technique when you create a study plan. When you finish each Pomodoro, you achieve a new goal.

Afterward, you can cross it off, just like you would on a to-do list. This will show you just how much progress you’ve made during your study session. It will also give you an endpoint to let you stop studying without worry or guilt.

 

Improve Your Focus While Studying

Practice makes perfect, and the same can be said for using the Pomodoro Technique. I have used the technique myself and was shocked at how poor my focus was.

In the beginning, I couldn’t make it more than fifteen minutes before I wanted to check my phone or get up and chat with one of my roommates down the hall.

Most of the time I didn’t even realize I was getting distracted until my phone was unlocked and a social media app was already open.

However, I continued to try and focus during the 25 minutes and made it longer and longer without getting distracted. After some practice, I’m now able to work in a focused flow for the whole Pomodoro. If you stick with the Pomodoro Technique, it will help you focus better than ever before!

 

Pomodoro Prevents Burnout 

42% of post-secondary students reported that stress affected their academic performance. When a person is under too much stress, they may end up experiencing burnout.

Burnout is when someone feels exhausted and unable to cope with their workload. If working under stress is ‘burning the midnight oil,’ burnout is when there is no oil left to burn.

When you get to this point, you feel as though you can’t do anything. How do we prevent this?

The Pomodoro Technique offers a few solutions. By using the technique to manage your time, you take away the stress of wondering how and when your work will get done. You have a plan in place that you can rely on. With less stress, you are less likely to get to the point of burnout.

Another way that the technique can help prevent burnout is by allowing you to take sufficient breaks. During your break, your brain is allowed to rest. This is exactly what your brain needs, especially if you are doing several hours of work.

There is plenty of research behind how important it is to let your brain have a break, and it comes with the benefits of increased energy, productivity, and creativity. 

Who knew that giving yourself a break would be such an important part of studying?

 

Conclusion

The Pomodoro Technique is a reliable study tool for any student. By providing you with a regular schedule, it is easy to form a good study habit, even to the point that your focus is improved by using it! It is also incredibly easy to start using. All you need is a timer, a pen and paper, and your study materials. With these simple tools, you are sure to make the most out of every study session. If you are interested in any other techniques check out this article: Pomodoro technique alternatives.

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