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Studying on “Tomato O’Clock”: A Student’s Guide To Using The Pomodoro Technique Efficiently

Oct 20, 2022

Beat procrastination and eliminate distractions while studying using the Pomodoro technique.

I called it a win when I got the J.D this year. I mean, not everyone gets to call themselves Juris Doctor.

How did I do it? Well, big ups to Francesco Cirillo and his ingenious Pomodoro study technique.

Ever get that weltschmerz feeling, where there’s this constant sense of exhaustion, probably anxiety related; and you’re stuck with the same problem, no matter the time and effort put in. If you do, it’s time for the Pomodoro technique.

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Table of Contents

What is the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique conceptualised by Francisco Cirillo in the late 1980s.

The then Italian student had realized that large loads of work could better be dealt with by using a simple trick to combat procrastination. The Pomodoro ( tomato in Italian) helps you utilize your effort to give maximum output per session.

Deep work sessions are represented with tomatoes (or apples, oranges, or basketballs, if you hate tomatoes). After setting a timer (ideally tomato shaped) for the desired duration (normally 25 minutes) and focusing on nothing else besides your deep work goal, , you celebrate your productivity by eating a tomato… Actually I made that last part up — normally you just draw a tomato on your time log but I guess if you’re hungry you could partake in a tomato themed snack.

For example, let’s say it’s going to take you three hours to study a specific topic. You can break down that time into six focus sessions of 25 minutes with a 5 minute break in between. It seems weird that this would help — after all couldn’t you just study for 3hrs straight? If you’re like me (and most people), you can’t maintain epic focus for super extended periods of time. There’s some science indicating that the maximum possible duration of intense focus is 90 minutes (look up ultradian rhythms). For most of us youngsters, even 90 minutes is impossible since our brains have been fried by TikTok, 5G, EMFs and mind-controlling reptilian overlords. Therefore, 25 minutes is a great way to start and you can build up the focus duration over time.

Cirilo published his work in 2006, and although this article is getting published in 2022 and in far shorter form, I assure you it has everything you need to master the Pomodoro technique to become better at studying.

Breaking down the Pomodoro Technique

Summarily, there are three steps and a tool required to carry out an effective Pomodoro:

The Tool

A timer (stopwatch or phone could suffice — though a dedicated app like Focus Bear is best)

The Steps

Step 1

Set your timer at 25 minutes, study, and give your undivided attention to the task throughout the duration.

Important Tip:

Bear in mind that the aim is to build and maximize output and, as such, is very flexible. Where a 50 minutes session feels like a lot, you can break it down into two parts of 25 minutes. Choose a time that accommodates your attention span which or may not be feeble (damn you TikTok!).

Step 2

Take a 5 minutes break.

Really Important Tip:

Avoid social media during this period. Do anything relaxing, really, except SOCIAL MEDIA. Not even watching “study videos” on TikTok.

If you’re having trouble expelling social media distractions, try Focus Bear.

Step 3

Repeat steps one and two.

Tim Ferriss, known for his “4-Hour” self-help book series, including the 4-Hour Work Week, the 4-Hour Body, and the 4-Hour Chef, that focuses on lifestyle optimizations, can attest that “you don’t need to bite too much at once. Commit to one sprint ( with a timer); it helps curb procrastination.”

Why Studying With Pomodoro is Ideal For You

If you relate to any of these three circumstances, then I urge you to hop on the P-Train (please don’t actually pee on a train — they normally don’t have toilets):

Low Attention Span

You get distracted at every slight buzz and beep. With the Pomodoro technique, you know you’ll have a break in a little while so it makes it easier to ignore those dings until it’s time for your next break (though you probably want to also change your notification settings so you don’t get pinged for irrelevant messages). Over time, you’ll be able to increase the duration of your focus blocks all the way up to the holy grail of 90 minutes.

Heavy Workload

As an undergrad, I struggled to keep up with an extensive syllabus. I had to deliver multiple essays on some dead guy’s jurisprudence and places I’d never been to.

Pomodoro helps you to get more done in less time because you give each task laser like focus. I also found it easier to get stuck into challenging tasks because I knew that I only had to work on the essay for 25 minutes even though it would take 4h in total. A 4h session is scary but 25 minutes feels doable.

Procrastination (I bet you saw this one coming)

There’s no denying that I’d rather see Daenerys Targaryen and her folks swarm around Kings-landing than opine on the juxtapositions of constitutional amendments. But last I checked, my hair wasn’t a silky silver press.

Procrastination does take its toll if allowed to linger. Don’t let it.

A perfect method for adding drama to life is to wait until the deadline looms large — Alyce Cornyn- Selby.

Well, this drama’s not worth it because using Pomodoro helps align your focus, aiding you through the entire process of accomplishing your tasks. All you’ve got to do is stay sharp for 25 minutes.

The Rules of The Pomodoro Technique

Do not break the Pomodoro

Remember that a session must take at least 25 minutes of focus and pure attention. There is no 17 ½ minutes pomodoro.

Turn off all distractions. Focus Bear will help with that.

Observe your breaks

I can’t emphasise the importance of the timed break interval after each session enough.

The break allows you to ease tension and prepare for the next session. Nonobservance of the breaks could lead to you spending the next 25 minutes absent mindedly going down a wikipedia rabbithole instead of finding the reference you were looking for. Five minutes break should be enough for every 25 minutes.

When taking a break, avoid social media. You could opt for a coffee and stretch or go for a walk. After you’ve done a few pomodoros, you’ve earned a much longer break.

Record your progress

You won’t know if you’re improving unless you track your progress. Keeping a progress journal helps.

You might get that feeling of not wanting to share challenges with people, but where better than your journal to express how far you’ve come? In keeping the records, you can know your strengths and weaknesses regarding knowledge accumulation and observe your attention span increasing.

These records form parts of your notes and go a long way in better studying and assimilation.

Wrap Up

Cirillo explains the many advantages of using the Pomodoro technique:

Helping you increase your productivity by breaking down complex tasks into simple ones and applying them to the places necessary in your studies.

The idea of time dependency no longer becomes an abstract concept because you realize you’re not wasting your time.

With each passing session, your progress allows you to move at a sustainable pace while regulating complexities. Nothing becomes overbearing as the results are no longer opaque. You can see them in tomatoes.


Focus Bear is a great tool for becoming a Pomodoro master.

Oct 20, 2022
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