By Tim Teatro
It’s midterm time for most students. So much to do and so little time! Oh, I know the horror of the ticking clock. The Pomodoro Technique is a tool for time management. Not only does it help with time budgeting, but it also helps to develop a disciplined focus to more directly target those items floating around on your “to-do” list. It helped to get me through my Masters thesis. In an age with so many technological distractions, I’m happy to present you, the reader, with a low-tech solution to managing your time and bolstering your focus.
The book explaining the Pomodoro technique is free to download, or can be ordered in hard copy. To get started quickly, click here to download the ‘cheat sheet’. All of the links for the materials you need are available from the Pomodoro website.
I’ll try to describe the basics. Keep in mind that this is a gross oversimplification for the sake of brevity. There’s a reason the method comes in the form of an entire book.
The method centres around a time-keeping device; anything that can count up or down 25-minutes. The original author, Francesco Cirillo, used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato, thus the name. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.) I use a simple $2.00 timer I got from Princess Auto (see right). What you choose is a personal decision, and we’d be happy to read about it in the comments.
Once you have your time keeping device, write down your list of tasks for the day. Take the first item on the list, and work at it for 25-minutes, uninterrupted. After that, you are free to take a 3-5 minute break. To put it in the vernacular, you have worked your first pomodoro. Continue like this for as many pomodoros as it takes to complete the task. Every 4 pomodoros, you allow yourself a 25-30 minute break.
Of course, you’re thinking that this is so simple, it’s nearly silly. While there’s more to it than I’ve explained, it is quite simple. It’s the habit you develop by practising the technique that really brings relief from time related anxiety. Try it!
Feel free to let us know how it works for you, and what you use for a timer. I know people who use software timers, phone apps, and even a fellow who built his own timer circuit using an Atmel microprocessor chip.