Contrary to popular belief, online classes are just as difficult as face-to-face classes, sometimes even more. While in-person classes are familiar territory, online classes require the self-discipline to stay focused during online lectures and ignore the glittering distractions of social media.
It’s understandable if you’re having a hard time adjusting to this new set-up. But don’t despair because many tools will help you get things done and make the most of distance learning.
One of the most effective techniques is the Pomodoro.
The Pomodoro Technique
The secret to time management is to think in tomatoes.
Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato. In the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo used his tomato kitchen timer to time his tasks as a university student. The tomato timer method was a success in his student life, so he refined it further to what is now called the Pomodoro Technique.
This method divides your academic tasks into 25-minute work sessions called Pomodoros. The core process comprises 6 steps:
1. Choose a Task
It doesn’t matter what the task is; it can be finishing a report due tonight or practicing a piece for your online music classes. Just be prepared to give it your full, undivided attention.
2. Set the Pomodoro Timer for 25 minutes
No more, no less. And it doesn’t have to be a tomato kitchen timer; you can use your phone. There are free Pomodoro apps, too. What’s important is you will focus on the task. Do not give in to any distractions.
3. Work until the Pomodoro Timer Rings
For the next 25 minutes, give the task your full attention. Don’t be tempted to pick up your phone or talk to anyone in the room. Everything else can wait. If you realize there’s something you should do, write it down on a piece of paper.
4. Once the Pomodoro Rings, Put a Checkmark
Congratulate yourself for spending 25 minutes of interruption-free work. Put a checkmark on a piece of paper to record your first Pomodoro of the day.
5. Take a 5-minute Break
You deserve a short break. Breathe, grab a coffee, scroll Twitter.
6. Every Four Pomodoros, Take a Break
Once you have four checkmarks on the paper (i.e., four Pomodoros), take a 30-minute break. Then go back to step one.
You might not have noticed it, but in six simple steps, you have been productive for the last two hours.
Today, over 2 million people have used the Pomodoro Technique to finish tasks (and, in many ways, transform their lives). The Pomodoro promotes a healthy relationship with time because you are constantly aware that time is ticking. Instead of racing against the clock, you work with time.
Why Is It Effective?
The Pomodoro Technique is effective because it makes starting and finishing a task simple.
- Starting becomes easy. Procrastination is a common problem among university students, and it’s not because they’re lazy. Often, students put things off because they avoid negative feelings associated with big projects. Under the Pomodoro Technique, you don’t have to worry about the entire task. You have to devote 25 minutes to a small, unintimidating step, like creating an essay outline or practicing the first bar on the music sheet.
- You avoid distractions. Because you plan to devote 25 minutes to this task, you do away with distractions. And you know that you can reply to that message or refresh your feed on your short break.
- Time is no longer abstract. When you’re on Instagram, ten minutes seem like 30 seconds. When you’re doing your homework, ten minutes feels like an hour. But if you’re doing the Pomodoro, you know exactly how much you’re devoting to your work and social feed. You are starkly aware of how much you’ve done with your time.
The Best People to Use the Pomodoro
The Pomodoro Technique is great for students because you always have tasks — students never seem to run out of things to do.
That said, the Pomodoro Technique may not be the best for everyone. Some people have found the pace that works for them, whether they prefer hours of intense, break-less focus or work in ten-minute bursts of energy. If you know what works for you, you don’t have to deviate from it.
On the other hand, try the Pomodoro Technique if:
- You are easily sucked into a rabbit hole of distractions (like snacking on charcoal ice cream or finishing that Netflix series)
- You have a lot of open-ended tasks (those that don’t have a clear deadline, like reading lessons or building a repertoire)
- You have a window of optimal productivity (like early mornings or late at night)
So on your next deadline, break the tasks down into Pomodoros. You might be surprised to see that you’ve accomplished more than you did in the last two days!