Building Good Study
Habits with the
Pomodoro Technique.

By Alejandro Garfias

We all get the same 24 hours in a day. For
some of us, it does not seem like enough
time. If only we could make more of it!
What we can do, instead, is manage our
time better. We are creative producers,
living in a time of great demand and strict
deadlines. I, myself am not perfect at time
management, but I have found a useful
tool that helps me manage my it better.
That is The Pomodoro Technique.

You might be asking yourself, what is The Pomodoro Technique? It is a time management method created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo who was an entrepreneur and software developer. Like most of us, Francesco also struggled with managing time. He developed this technique by working for 10 minutes straight with no interruptions. Eventually, that led him to increase the amount of time he would work as far as 25 minutes. He named this method after a tomato-shaped timer he had in his kitchen that he used to keep himself productive and focused as a university student. The way it works is simple, The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that breaks your workload into 25 minute chunks, separated by five minute breaks. After doing four sessions of Pomodoros you would take another break that would last between 15 to 20 minutes. However, you don’t have to stick with these increments since you are able to customize the amount of time you want to work or take a break. If you do decide to customize your workflow, I recommend not going past 30 minutes of work time and 25 minutes for a break to avoid burn-out or losing focus.

You might feel skeptical at first and think that this method is not for you, but don’t worry. I felt the exact same way. Before I started doing Pomodoros I would just sit at my desk and try to knock out as much homework as I could for countless hours. After an hour or two I would feel burnt out and I would tell myself that I would only take a 30-minute break. This did not work out because I would often find myself procrastinating and putting my work aside until the last minute. And, by last minute I mean really late at night! This style of working was not great because I would have to stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. occasionally even 3 a.m. just to finish my homework. Sometimes I would not even finish it so it was wasted time and effort. And at that point, ideas were executed in panic and did not turn out well. After getting frustrated and tired of not being able to concentrate and do the stuff I was assigned I searched for good time management techniques.

“After my fourth Pomodoro, I was done
with all the work for one class and it
only took an hour and 50 minutes.”

Luckily, I came across an article about The Pomodoro Technique. After I read what it was and how it worked, I decided to give it a shot. The website I was using was The Pomodoro Technique By Alejandro Garfias 7 You are Here | The Pomodoro Technique tomato-timer and it had a preset timer for 25 minutes. I first made a list of the assignments I needed to get done. After that, I cleared myself of all distractions and was ready to go. After 3 sessions of Pomodoros and short breaks in between, I realized how much more engaged and creative I was with my work. I was able to finish most of the homework in one class in about an hour and 15 minutes. After my fourth Pomodoro, I was done with all the work for one class and it only took an hour and 50 minutes. Those breaks in between, that I had set for 10 minutes rather than 5, really helped me quite a lot. It would remind me to get up and stretch, go use the restroom, or simply get a quick snack in because when I worked for hours straight I would often forget to do those things unless I was feeling really burnt out. The reason why I feel The Pomodoro Technique clicked and worked so well for me is that I was more likely to work with a sense of focus. 25 minutes was not as long as an hour, but not too short either so I was excited to see how far I could get in that allotted time. There are days where I ignore the timer and continue working through my break time just because I’m really in-the-zone. But, I limit myself to only an extra 5 minutes, so I do put myself back into a state where I work longer than is productive.

I would highly recommend pairing this with an app you can download on your computer called Cold Turkey. It locks you out from going on websites that could distract you. It already comes with preloaded sites that are blocked. But, you could also add any other websites that you think would be great to block for either a few hours or days. The great thing about this app is that it does not matter if you reset your computer or close the program it will not let you visit those sites until the timer you set has passed. That is a technique that I also use when managing my time because, let’s face it, social media is a huge distraction. Thinking about it now as a third year student, I wish someone would have told me about a time management method like this during my first year because it would have definitely helped. I encourage you to go give it a try if you find yourself struggling to control your time. It has definitely made a difference in my creativity and work experience!

TIP: Work smarter, not harder