In honor (bleh) of school starting back this morning I wanted to talk about two time management techniques when it comes to getting school/homework accomplished.
1) Hide in your bed.
Hope against all hope that no one finds you while you wonder why in the world school is happening to you and why Christmas break isn’t much, much longer. (This technique was unsuccessful for me today, in case you were wondering.)
2) The Pomodoro
A pomodoro is some sort of little Italian tomato. This technique was ‘invented’ by Francesco Cirillo in the 80′s. He was in college and not doing so well with study skills and time organization. Here is what he has to say about that time:
One day in the classroom on campus where I used to study, I watched my classmates with a critical eye, and then looked even more critically at myself: how I got myself organized, how I interacted with others, how I studied. It was clear to me that the high number of distractions and interruptions and the low level of concentration and motivation were at the root of the confusion I was feeling.
So I made a bet with myself, as helpful as it was humiliating: “Can you study – really study – for 10 minutes?” I needed objective validation, a Time Tutor, and I found one in a kitchen timer shaped like a pomodoro (the Italian for tomato) – in other words, I found my “Pomodoro”. (Cirillo, 2006)
He goes on to say that for many of us, “time is an enemy” and Pomodoro is his way of making time work FOR you rather than against you. (Cirillo, 2006) After using this method for only one week, I can say that it has made a huge difference for me. When I use Pomodoro I get so much more done than before. It has truly been amazing to me!
The basics include planning (at the start of the day), tracking your progress throughout the day, and recording what was done at the end of the day. All you need to get started is a Pomodoro (a kitchen timer), a ‘To Do Today’ sheet, and an ‘Activity Inventory’ sheet. Both of the sheets can be downloaded for free from The Pomodoro Technique. The website is really helpful and full of step by step information. This is where you can download the short book (quoted from above) which Mr. Cirillo wrote to document the entire technique.
You start by listing out everything you need to do that day. I simply make a list of the classwork that I have to accomplish that day in addition to chores or any other activities that need to be done. Then you get started. A Pomodoro lasts for 30 minutes, and cannot be interrupted. That is 25 minutes of work time plus a 5 minute break. So – you set your timer for 25 minutes, you know exactly what needs to be accomplished during that Pomodoro, and you get to work! Remember, NO interruptions. For me that means:
*No checking Facebook real quick
*No peeking at Pinterest so that I can plan my non existent wedding
*No looking at email
*No YouTube videos
You don’t do anything else for that 25 minutes. (It will be really helpful if you let your family know what you are trying to do so they can help you out by not interrupting your work during a Pomodoro.) By focusing on what you are doing for a short amount of time, it makes it so much easier to get a lot done. And you have the 5 minute break to look forward too! (And yes, it is possible to check FB, Pinterest and watch a short video in 5 minutes if you really focus!)
What has been most helpful to me has come by reducing distractions. I had no idea how often I would stop my work to do little insignificant things and I knew even less how much those interruptions were affecting what I could accomplish each day. I believe this is going to be a technique that I use for the rest of my life.
I hope that you will take some time to visit the Pomodoro website and see if this method will help you become more productive with your study time. I will be following up soon on this post with more Pomodoro details.
If you try it, let me know what you think!
(I would like to give credit to Carol Amato for first bringing the Pomodoro Technique to my attention. My mom follows Carol’s blog and she wrote a great post in December 2012 about Goal Setting and Having a Plan of Action that was very helpful to me. This was the first time that my mom and I had ever heard of Pomodoro. Thanks Carol!)