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 studies. This can be a big transition and the first step towards academic success in organizing your time. It is super important to have proper time management skills for any student. The next step is learning an effective study method. The Pomodoro Technique is one tool that can help you in all your studies.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple and effective way to manage time for any work, including studying. The basis of the technique is following a routine that alternates between work and breaks. This way, you can maximize your productivity without burning yourself out.
You work for 25 minutes to follow the technique 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? Tomato-shaped oven timers inspire the technique’s name. 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, you choose what you need to study, slot it into one of the 25-minute work sessions, and take your scheduled breaks.
However, if you want to get the most out of the technique, there is a little more to it. Let’s break down the Pomodoro Technique to see how and why it works.
Pomodoro Helps to Set Priorities
Before you start studying, you have to know what you will study. The average college student takes 4-5 courses, so 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 consider when 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. A visual reminder of what you want to focus on will keep you on track during your study session.
Here is an example of what your study plan could look like:
- 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 Pomodoro break. Pretty encouraging! Now it’s time to get started.
Ready, Set, Study!
The moment has come for you to open your books and start studying. Before that, dread rises at how much you have to do or how hard school is; try to 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!
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 can 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 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 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. Please write it down whenever you think of something you don’t want to forget.
Then, when you have completed your work session, you can review 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 unrelated tasks. You are also freeing up the mental energy used to try 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?
You have learned that the Pomodoro Technique can boost your productivity, but what other Pomodoro benefits exist? Here are a few positive impacts 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.
Worrying 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. When creating a study plan, you do this as part of the Pomodoro Technique. When you finish each Pomodoro, you achieve a new goal.
Afterward, you can cross it off like you would on a to-do list. This will show you 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 can work in a focused flow for the whole of 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.
You feel as though you can’t do anything when you get to this point. How do we prevent this?
The Pomodoro Technique offers a few solutions. Using the time management technique eliminates 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 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 working several hours.
There is plenty of research on 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 an important part of studying?
The Pomodoro Technique is a reliable study tool for any student. It is easy to form a good study habit by providing you with a regular schedule, 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, pen, paper, and study materials. With these simple tools, you can make the most out of every study session. If you are interested in other techniques, check out this article: Pomodoro technique alternatives.