How to be productive in 25 mins

By Eleanor O'Neill, Student Blog

30 October 2017

Have you ever wanted to get more out of your day? Are you easily distracted or do you find it hard to concentrate on one task at a time? Then try the Pomodoro technique!

Professor Barbara Oakley, learning practices expert and author of Mindshift, had this advice in an interview with Inc.:

"When you wake up in the morning, think of the one thing that you really want to get done that day. Then try to set a timer for 25 minutes and work on that one thing in an uninterrupted way for those 25 minutes.

"If something comes to your mind, or if you want to go online or check your phone, do not let that happen. Just keep on working on what you're doing and when the 25 minutes is done, just sit and relax. Get your mind completely off it. 

"This is the Pomodoro Technique that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s."

Cirillo's idea is one of the most popular time management and process improvement methods employed by innovators and leaders from all walks of life. The technique is simple but, when mastered, can be highly effective in combating distractions and boosting productivity.

Named for the tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo used when he himself was a student, the Pomodoro Technique has been endorsed by Wall Steet Journal Columnist Sue Shellenbarger and Publisher of Apple World Today, Steven Sande.

The Pomodoro Technique

  • Budget your time spent on a single task to 25-minute segments or 'pomodoros'.
  • Take a five-minute break between each pomodoro and note how often you became distracted or restless.
  • After four pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.

The Cirillo Company claims that using this method can help students improve their reading speed, keep track of assignments, write papers and break down research time more effectively.

However, it hasn't proved useful for everyone. Creator of the open source library lambdaj (now GitHub) Mario Fusco critiqued:

"Aren’t we really able to keep ourselves concentrated without a timer ticketing on our desk? I think that, like any other serious professional, I can stay concentrated on what I am doing for hours… Bring back your timer to your kitchen and start working in a more professional and effective way."

Whatever your opinion, as exams loom and you start to hit the books, slicing your time up into tomatoes just might be worth a try!

Will you be trying the Pomodoro Technique? Have you used it before? Tell us how you fared in the comments below.


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