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The Pomodoro Technique

Students often tell us that they have a hard time motivating themselves to start studying. Once they get rolling, they are fine, but the genesis is insurmountable. It’s a common problem. After all, activation energy to beat inertia requires more force than sustained movement. That doesn’t help us, though. No, for students to beat procrastination, they need to master inertia and find a way to get moving. That’s where the Pomodoro technique comes into play.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages short-bursts of productivity rather than long-term discipline against distraction. Using this method, students break their study time into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are called pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, students should take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.

Although this simple timer trick seems simple, it really works. The goal of the timer is to instill a sense of urgency and immediacy into the work. Procrastination often takes hold because of fear of never finishing and vague deadlines. Distraction also plays its part. Students look at a task and can’t see the finish line, so they choose not to start. The Pomodoro technique turns this problem on its head. Instead of squandering time away aimlessly because of a sense of endlessness, students using this technique have 25 minutes to achieve real progress.

Additionally, the forced breaks help cure that frazzled, burnt-out feeling that most students face. It’s impossible to spend hours in front of your computer without even realizing it, as that ticking timer reminds you to get up and take a breather. And remember, we overwhelmingly support taking breaks to boost productivity. The average person can only give 100% focus for one minute per year of age, according to the Harvard Center for the Developing Child. Spinning your wheels out of a misplaced sense of progress often does more harm than good. Therefore, breaks help bright students get results.

The Pomodoro technique is a systematic way to provide this handbrake. Rather than working for two hours at 60% focus, the Pomodoro technique helps students work for hours at a much higher intensity. Almost any student would take better results in less time than poor results and wasted hours. Encouraging your student to build the Pomodoro technique into his or her studying routine is one of the fastest ways to boost motivation, consistency, and grades.

For more ideas on study tactics and executive function, please head over to our blog page. To learn more about our one-on-one academic coaching and tutoring service, reach out today!

Evan Weinberger


Staying Ahead of the Game offers unique academic coaching & tutoring services to help good students achieve greatness.

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