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Is the Pomodoro Technique Helpful While Studying Online?

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The Pomodoro Technique has been used by students, writers, and captains of industry to up their creativity and boost performance. But how useful is this little tomato while studying online?

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

If you've tried everything to up your productivity while studying online, but find the endless distractions of the Internet too much to ignore, the Pomodoro Technique might be worth a look. Let's examine what it is, how it works, and how it can help you make the best use of the limited time you have to get your work done.

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple productivity hack that breaks down large tasks into bite-sized jobs. Users complete the smaller jobs in short, hyper-productive bursts of activity. These bursts are followed by short breaks and then more activity. This simple method, developed by entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo, and named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used while perfecting it, aims to retrain the brain to work more efficiently for increased focus and productivity.

How Does It Work?

There are six key steps to achieving success with the Pomodoro Technique. All six are simple and can be implemented at little or no cost to you.

1) Pick a task.

2) Set your timer for 25 minutes.

3) Work on the task and nothing else until the timer goes off.

4) Have a short break.

5) Make a note of the completed work session.

6) Repeat.

The creator used a small kitchen timer, but you can use any timekeeping device that you have. Consider trying the one built into your computer or cell phone to keep track of your work session.

What's the Benefit?

When we start a new task, it's easy to let our enthusiasm get the best of us. We work hard for long periods in our zeal to get the job done or learn something new. But, prolonged work periods without a break can lead to poor output and can kill our initial passion for a task or subject.

Stopwatch

Conversely, starting a task we hate can lead us to procrastinate and stress out, preventing us from getting started at all. Because the Pomodoro Technique allows you to break the task into smaller chunks, it can prevent you from overworking and can make even challenging jobs bearable.

The Pomodoro Technique sets clear boundaries between work and rest, giving us a time limit to complete tasks. This artificial boundary creates a sense of urgency, forcing us to focus and work harder to complete a job before the timer runs out. The frequent breaks keep our minds fresh and offer a regular reward for working hard. Plus, because you make a note of each completed work session, you know how long a task should take and can better budget your time when taking on future tasks.

Can It Help You?

While most students would agree that they should be able to focus without aid, for some that extra visual incentive can be just the thing to encourage greater productivity. This extra boost can be the difference between studying effectively online and spending the afternoon watching cat videos. Best of all? It won't cost a dime to try the system.

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Simply follow these six steps to see if your productivity doesn't get a shot in the arm:

1) Set a timer - any timer - for 25 minutes.

2) Open a web browser.

3) Begin your tasks.

4) When the timer goes off, step away from the computer for five minutes. Stretch, walk around, have some coffee, do whatever you need to do to refresh your mind and your body - but stay within that five-minute window.

5) Make a note of your successful session. The inventor suggests a checkmark on a piece of paper, but any method that works for you is fine.

6) Reset your timer and begin again, this time using the first few minutes to review your notes or the work you completed in the past session.

As you go through the session, note how your environment impacts your ability to concentrate. Think about what supplies would make the job easier. Consider how your productivity compares to previous sessions. If you find yourself distracted by social media, videos, messages, or other random online content, a web blocker may also be helpful in keeping interruptions to a minimum, further maximizing study time.

According to the inventor of the system, users can expect to see an improvement in productivity in a day or two. Maximum results could occur in as little as a week.

What's the Verdict?

As David Fink, a writer for Medium notes, the Pomodoro method relies on users being able to maintain discipline during work sessions. If you're the type of student who freezes under pressure or can't stand artificial deadlines, the Pomodoro Technique may not work for you. Likewise, if you're determined to procrastinate no matter what barriers you put in place, it won't matter what system you try.

If, however, you're spurred on by countdowns, like a visual reminder of work you've completed and jobs you've yet to complete, and enjoy the idea of frequent breaks followed by feverish bursts of activity, the Pomodoro Technique might be worth investigating. It's free, easy, and you probably already have everything you need to try it, so what have you got to lose?

By Patricia Willis
February 2017
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