Productivity: Pomodoro Style

There’s no doubt that student life is a continuous balancing act of going to class, reading, studying, outside activities and employment (for some), all while attempting to have some kind of a social life. With all this juggling going on, I sometimes wonder if I should run off and enrol myself in clown college.

I find it so difficult to bring myself to focus on one thing, let alone two or more things at once. At the moment, I have readings to catch up on, two midterms to study for, a video assignment and an essay due all within the same week. And that list is only for everything I have to tackle regarding school. Following my computer crash fiasco last weekend, I’m still trying to recover, and feel extremely overwhelmed. With everything packed into such an overwhelmingly short period of time, I don’t even know where to begin!

I’m usually pretty good with time management, but as of late I’ve been lured into hardcore procrastination. I favoured naps and nights out over hitting the books one time too many. When an assignment is due in only two weeks, I tend to put it on the backburner and say maybe later. However, deadlines are closer than they appear and at this point, I feel like I used up all my “Get out of jail free” cards. So I sat down in front of my work and just started, but the hard part was that every time I even attempted to work on something, I would a) get really bored eventually and b) would get so anxious thinking about everything else on my plate that I couldn`t focus. Speaking of plates, c) I was getting pretty hungry just thinking about how much I was thinking about how much I had to do. How was I going to go from procrastination to productivity? That is when I was introduced to the Pomodoro technique:

Besides being synonymous with the name of a pasta sauce, it is a productivity and time management technique that is used to enhance your focus and help you make the most use of your time.

Here’s how it works:

Choose a task to be accomplished and set a timer to 25 minutes. Then after working and focusing only on that one task for the duration of time, take a short 5 minute break. Choose another task and repeat. Every 4 Pomodoro cycles, take a longer break.

This technique took some time to fully get used to but after implementing it into my study habits, I felt that I got a lot more done and it reduced the boredom and anxiety from staring monotonously at my screen for four hours wishing that my essay would write itself. Instead, I knew that in a short time, I would be working on something else and had little breaks to look forward to. I even found a neat little tool that times the cycle for you here.  On top of that, the simple structure of the technique is pretty straightforward and is an easy schedule to follow. I even broke the temptation of going over those five minute breaks eventually because I was so motivated that my productivity was soaring.
Of course, you can change up the timings in ways that you think will suit your study habits and use it to get the most efficiency. Or if you want you can even opt out of choosing a different task to do and focus on studying for the same class, but study a different chapter. There really are no rules. Try it out, let me know what works for you and I wish everyone good luck on your midterms. I’m gonna go take five now and start studying up for mine!

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