Every student has been in this situation before. You take out your textbook/ reference book/notes and you tell yourself you’re going to be studying Bio, Physics, Maths, etc. for 2 hours.
And you start studying. For a while. Then, your mind starts to wander. Your phone beeps with every single notification from social media that you receive. You want to reply your Whatsapp messages. Or you suddenly remember there’s a nice movie showing on television.
Or in the worst cases, the wall in front of you suddenly seems fascinatingly more interesting that the material you were studying.
THE POINT IS THAT WE GET SO EASILY DISTRACTED WHEN WE STUDY. And this leads to the study session not being very productive and effective. You can’t seem to remember what you have studied and you feel guilty for wasting time while your exams are drawing ever closer.
Trust me, I know how it feels.
Since Last December, I have not been studying regularly for a period of 8-9 months. And when I started my pre-university studies in September, a few weeks back, I felt exactly the same way as I described in the first paragraph.
But thankfully, not all of the 8 to 9 months since the end of SPM was a waste of time. I was doing my preparation for pre-university studies and came across this method of staying focused while studying which is known as THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE.
The Pomodoro technique is so simple that I didn’t believe that it would work initially. But, I’ve come to be a devout practitioner and evangelist of the technique since I started using it and in this post, I would like to share with you this technique which will hopefully benefit you.
The main idea of the Pomodoro technique is that for a short period of time (known as a Pomodoro), you will do work which is extremely productive, distraction-free and of the highest quality.
At the corporate level, this is sometimes called deep work. For students, this might be called effective studying. This period of focused work is then followed by a short break before continuing on with more focused work.
To summarize the Pomodoro technique in a few steps:
Pick a specific task (i.e. Practice trigonometry questions, tidy up the room, etc.)
Set the timer to 25 minutes. (Toggl is the best one, recommended by the editor.)
Start working on the task until you hear the timer ring. (If you are using the computer to do the task, close all of the tabs that are unrelated to the current tabs. If you are using Google Chrome or Firefox, check out OneTab App to keep all of your unrelated tabs in one window while you are in the Pomodoro working zone.)
Take a short break of 5 minutes. (Do anything, but only for 5 minutes!)
Repeat steps 1 to 4 while taking a longer break of 15 minutes after 4 Pomodoros.
Pro Tip from Da Ruey: You may adjust the time of each Pomodoro and the time for the breaks according to your preference. Just make sure the break time is proportionally shorter than the time for each Pomodoro :P*
There are many benefits to the Pomodoro technique as quoted on their website, the Pomodoro technique, such as:
1. It helps you to learn to work with time and not against it. This for me was one of the biggest benefits I’ve gained from this method as I have learned to see time as a tool for my study sessions and not an enemy. I’ve also learned to manage my time and make my study sessions much organized.
2. Helping to MANAGE DISTRACTIONS!!! This is one of the biggest problems faced by all teenagers. But, knowing that you will be studying for a short period of 25 minutes makes it easier to forgo using your phone in that short period of time.
The Pomodoro technique recommends the use of low technology by getting a physical timer (link to a Tomato timer or if you want, you can get the Star Wars theme timer :P) but if you really have to use your device then I suggest using it in Airplane mode to help you to get more work and studying done.
3. It helps create a better work/life balance. For students, this might mean having time to enjoy the small things in life like exercising and spending time with family and not just studying alone in their rooms while burning the midnight oil.
When you eliminate distractions from your study sessions, you’ll be surprised how much you can actually learn and absorb in a short period of time.
There is something magical about the effectiveness of the Pomodoro technique that I just cannot seem to explain. Maybe it’s how short 25 minutes seems to be or maybe it’s how the short breaks are so refreshing after studying for some time.
I still struggle to stay focused in my study sessions but the Pomodoro technique is helping me to improve as I practice it daily.
Will you please do yourself a favor and share the Pomodoro technique a try if you are someone who faces the problem of staying focused while studying?
Thank you for reading.
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Da Ruey is a recent SPM graduate who is currently pursuing International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. He loves writing, reading, soccer and football freestyle which is a relatively new sport in Malaysia.
Original article published here.