Pomodoro: An Effective Study System

Tivan George, News Writer

For a period of one week, I explored something called a “Pomodoro”. Although it is known as an ingredient of a sauce accompanying pasta in italian cuisine, it is also, in fact, a study system. This system was created by Francesco Cirillo in the early 1990s, so he could boost the working efficiency of his employees as well as himself. It has now long been adapted and used by several people as a study system in order to improve their knowledge intake and retention.

The pomodoro is a very flexible study system that only has one main rule; study or work a set period of time, and then take a break for a set period of time, when you study, you only study, and when you take a break, you do anything but study. Traditionally, one should study for 25 minutes and take a break for five. This repeats until four cycles have been completed, at which point a larger 10-20 minute break is taken.  

It might not have been the smartest decision to try out a new study system because a day or two in, I remembered I had a math test coming up. Those initial days were rough, because this study system was a new experience to me. Usually I would just study and work when I felt like it.

From there it was generally positive. The short study sessions helped me focus on the task at hand and helped me accomplish a lot, and the breaks in between gave me a chance to refresh. But that’s not all, although the timing of a “Pomodoro” is flexible, I stuck onto the traditional timing because it helped me allocate time to and prioritize my tasks. This can help polish up any discrepancies in achieving something by a certain deadline, thus (hopefully) eliminating any wasted time. Also, by recognizing how much time a certain task takes, you can also judge if you need a deadline extension sooner, which means there is a higher chance of you getting the extension. Repeating several “Pomodoros” will get you into a routine, which makes studying several times easier.

However, there are also quite a few limitations to this system. This system works best at home, or places with hour-based time slots. For example, my classes are 70 minutes long, instead of 60, which leaves me with 10 extra minutes. Thus, in that case, the “Pomodoro” is not the best choice. Next, during the five minute break in between each “Pomodoro”, it is easy to lose your train of thought, especially when focusing on a hard task, concept, or problem. This either leads to five minutes of review, or having to start from scratch. This leads into how the “Pomodoro” is very effective for time-based assignments, instead of task-based. Finally, if you are in a “zone” where you are studying or working very effectively, following the “Pomodoro” is a horrible idea. The “Pomodoro” will frequently break your concentration and could render you unable to zone in for quite some time, but that also depends on how long one remains in their “zone”.

In the end, it all depends on how you study and your experience with the “Pomodoro”, however I would personally recommend it and I will continue to use it as it is, in general, effective.