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Curriculum Catch-Up - The Pomodoro Technique

I often speak of the importance of time management and organisation as part of academic endeavours. It is my firm belief that organisation, time management and sheer hard work are far more important than natural talent and IQ when it comes to academic success, and as an extension to that, happiness in life more generally. This is good news for us all, as we have the ability to control how we set goals, organise, and manage our time. In this article I want discuss one way of controlling your organisation and time management – the Pomodoro Technique.

Here is how using this technique changed the life of one young woman - Yana Savitsky. It also explains why it is called the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro technique as devised by Francesco Cirillo has 6 steps to follow.

  1. Find out how much effort an activity requires Split each task into a series of 30-minute Pomodoros. Each will be 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break.

  2. Cut down on interruptions Usually, you can afford to take 25 minutes before calling back a friend or replying to an email. You’ll learn how to handle the inevitable interruption while staying focused on the task at hand.

  3. Estimate the effort for activities Once you’ve gotten the hang of the technique, you’ll be able to accurately predict how many Pomodoros it will take to accomplish tomorrow’s tasks.

  4. Make the Pomodoro more effective While the structures of the Pomodoro are set, what you do within them can be adjusted to maximize efficiency. One way to make a Pomodoro more effective is to use the first few minutes to review what you’ve done before.

  5. Set up a timetable A timetable sets a limit, motivating you to complete a task within a set period of time. It also delineates your work time from your free time. Creating a clear timetable will allow you to enjoy your time off without worrying that you could be doing more work.

  6. Define your own objectives The Pomodoro Technique is a tool you can use to reach your own objectives. For example, a writer might realize she’s spending too much time revising, and adjust her timetable to allow for more brainstorming time.

I do understand that any one study technique won’t work for everyone. However, trialling different techniques to find what works for you is important. Whatever you do, you must find ways to be organised, manage your time effectively and to work hard at your goals.

Dr John Fry

Deputy Principal - Studies


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