Procrastination and Time Management are two things that almost everyone can say they have personally struggled with while living the student life. Needless to say, the last-minute test preparations and the anxiety that is caused due to the brain cram is exhausting.
A university student in late 1980s, Francesco Cirillo, was struggling with his assignments and studies. Feeling overwhelmed, he tried dividing his tasks and time into short intervals using a different measure, in this case tomatoes (pomodoro in Italian) instead of hours. Weirdo. But guess what – it worked!
He went ahead to write a 130 page book about the technique focusing on the details. But here is the basic idea behind it:
- Get a to-do list and a timer. Yes, your phone is fine but on night mode.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task until the timer rings.
- When your session ends, mark off one pomodoro and record what you completed. You don’t necessarily need tomatoes; you can draw them too.
- Then enjoy a five-minute break. Get up from the seat and take your eyes off the screen.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer, more restorative 15–30 minute break. Get some food.
Thus, in a nutshell, one tomato is 30 minutes sprint with 25-minute core work. But, it includes 3 rules to get the most out of it:
- Divide up the complexity – If it requires more then 4 tomatoes, divide it into more simple, actionable steps.
- Keep the small tasks together – Any tasks that require less than 30 minutes should be combined with similar tasks. For example, paying bills or sending an update email.
- Once set, sit through it – No distractions, or texts, or quick snap. Give it a 100%. Focus. Get yourself a pen and paper, and note down any ideas, tasks or requests that come up during that session.
If you have unavoidable disruptions, yes petting your dog/cat counts, take a 5-minute break and then start again. No disrupting the session.
Does this method work or is it all tomatoes?
Well scientific studies have shown that breaking down whatever the task is into a tiny, unintimidating first step will usually help you to be more productive and clearer with your goals. ‘One day at a time’, makes sense right?
If you feel like you want to put your tomatoes to a better use before you make the sauce, visit the link to know more about the technique.
Food for thought - Students were overwhelmed in 1980s due to their assignments and school work, before the alleged social media and cell phone distractions and so this whole technique was born. So maybe, just maybe, it is not entirely social media’s fault and partly the systemic educational system? Food for thought, Pomodoro away.