The Pomodoro Technique And Spaced Repetition: Why Every Student Should Use Them in 2020

The Pomodoro Technique The Pomodoro Technique is named after the pomodoro kitchen timer. This technique is a time management method that was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. It uses a timer to break down tasks and work in 25 minute intervals with quick short breaks in between the work. It has so far been largely popularized thanks to a plethora of applications and websites all of which are providing timers as well as instructions regarding the best application of the technique.  

Speaking of the Pomodoro Technique, there are a few key steps that need to be followed with regards to its proper application. They include:

a. Deciding on the actual task or work to be undertaken.  

b. Setting the pomodoro timer (25 minutes).

c. Working on the task at hand. 

d. Promptly stopping work the moment the timer rings and proceeding to put a checkmark from where you will pick up after the break then repeat. 

During the initial stages before you get to 4 checkmarks, you should only take quick short breaks of preferably 3-5 mins. However after more than 4 checkmarks you would need to increase the duration of your breaks to around 25 minutes each before resetting your timer back to zero and taking up a new work session again.  Also note that the stages of planning, recording, tracking, processing and even visualizing are key to the success of this particular technique in general. For instance, during the planning phase, tasks or work can be prioritized by simply being recorded in a daily to do list manner.

Doing this is very important since it makes it easier to estimate the likely amount of time that would be required to complete tasks. With every task that is complete, records are taken which in turn offers a sense of accomplishment while providing raw data that can easily be used subsequently for self-evaluation as well as plan for personal improvement as far as efficiency is concerned. One of the main objectives of this technique is to significantly reduce the external as well as internal interruptions that are common when undertaking tasks.

An Overview of what to expect applying The Pomodoro Technique.

I have come to really like this technique. I implement it each time I'm looking to kick my productivity up a notch higher. I however have to admit that working in small increments at first was extremely uncomfortable. There were certain instances in which I was tempted to simply ignore the timer and proceed but i managed to force myself to stick to the timer.

Long story short, The Pomodoro Technique has truly lived up to its promise which was to help me become more focused and extremely productive. As a matter of fact. But perhaps the question is how effective or practical the technique is for someone who regularly has a lot of meeting, appointments and calls.


What is Spaced Repetition?

In case you were not aware, in order to be able to retain information for longer, we need to be able to refresh it periodically. For instance, the capital of Norway is Oslo. In the event that you are not making use of this information, there is a very high likelihood that you will forget this piece of information after a fairly short period of time. However, in the event that you keep encountering this same piece of information over and over again then chances are that you will most definitely be able to remember this piece of information for a fairly long period of time. Simply put, the more you encounter any piece of information, the less often you might need to keep refreshing it in your memory. Remember, even the most familiar piece of information can easily be forgotten if not refreshed in the mind for a long period of time.

In a bid to help improve information retention in the mind, there is The Spaced Repetition Technique. This technique implies the review of important facts or information actively and gradually at increasing intervals. Sometimes referred to as space rehearsals, it is broken into two:

a) The Leitner System.

It is best viewed as a physical box with several compartments meant for storage of flashcards. The compartments are labelled hence allowing you to choose and have each flashcard in its respective compartment. For instance, for any new flashcard, it is advisable to have it in the first compartment subject to review daily. Flashcards you;re already familiar with can be placed in the second compartment where they can be reviewed every two days. Flashcards known extremely well are to be placed in the third compartment with its own frequency of review. Take note, in the process of review, any flash card that is well known should always be graduated onto the next compartment.

Through the application of this system, you have a chance to sort out your flashcards into those well-known and those which seem difficult to recall. As a result, you are able to study flashcards you are more familiar with more often. However it might pose a challenge trying to figure out exactly what intervals each compartment should have. The best way to figure out this, is to engage in trial and error right until you come across an interval that suits you. Another concern is that the system prompts you to review certain pieces of information too much. Lastly, the system too does not take into consideration your past retention performance for specific cards.

b) Automatic Spaced Repetition Scheduling.

Considered the most optimal way of learning; computers not only manage but also calculate for each individual flash card the repetition interval having already taken into consideration the previous performance of that particular flashcard. In the automated spaced repetition, there aren’t rigid compartments as it is in the case in the leitner system. As a matter of fact, spaced repetition software significantly increases efficiency of studying. This approach to spaced repetition significantly reduces the amount of time involved in learning generally. The spaced repetition software will engage you in an active review process since its application requires your involvement.

One of the best things about the application of the spaced repetition software is the fact that it automatically manages and also schedules reviews throughout the learning process. This way, you are guaranteed a chance to focus more on fairly challenging pieces of information without wasting valuable time on items already familiar to the mind.

Final thoughts.

In most cases working as an academician usually means having your day segmented into teaching, office hours, attending department meeting, grading etc. Achieving all of these tasks by splitting your day makes it twice as challenging to complete even the most basic of tasks that form your daily routine.  Applying the pomodoro technique is by far one of the best things to do especially when you feel pressed for time with a ton of tasks yet to be complete. You will be happy to learn that besides helping you stay focused, this technique would also help you easily figure out precisely how much time you must have spent on a specific task.

Being able to apply the pomodoro technique serves as a guarantee to artificially create proper division of time which in turn would help tasks accomplished in time. So rest easy knowing that this technique would create several blocks of time which in turn would make it easier for you to switch from one task to the next with the same level of focus and clear mind. That said, if you have been struggling to make the most of your time, this is definitely worth trying.