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The Pomodoro Technique: Effective Learning Made Easy

For a successful part-time distance learning course, good time management is essential. In contrast to full-time face-to-face courses, you usually have less time to study. Here it is important to reconcile both professional and private obligations such as family, friends and further education. In order to use the learning time as productively as possible, you can use a simple but effective method: the Pomodoro technique.

Pomo -... what?

The learning technique owes its unusual name to its Italian inventor, Francesco Cirillo. In order to be able to learn more concentrated and focused for his studies, he divided his work phases into smaller blocks in the 1980s, each of which was exactly 25 minutes long. Why 25 minutes? To measure the time, Cirillo used a kitchen clock shaped like a tomato, which could be wound up to the appropriate length. The name of the technology comes from this clock: “Pomodoro” means ‘tomato’ in Italian. The decisive factor in this method is not just the division of working time into small units. Rather, it is about the regular alternation between learning and recovery phases.

The 6 steps of the Pomodoro technique

1. Select a task

The first step is to prepare your Pomodoro session. You choose a task that can be completed in 25 minutes and write it down on a piece of paper. Alternatively, you also have the option of collecting several small, organizational activities such as sending e-mails or printing documents for one run. In turn, you divide larger study achievements, for example homework or exam preparation, into smaller work steps.

2. Set the timer to 25 minutes

Take an alarm clock, cell phone or other device to measure time and set the appropriate number of minutes. You can also set a shorter working time of 10 or 15 minutes for practicing and gradually increase. The only important thing is that you conscientiously go through all the phases of the technology.

3. Work through until the alarm goes off in a focused manner

In the study and work phase, it is of central importance that you avoid distractions and disturbances of any kind. These often arise when you pick up your cell phone or look something up on your PC. So consistently resist the temptation to do anything other than your task. If you think of urgent professional or private tasks while you are at work, you can write them down on a separate sheet of paper. This gives you the certainty that you will not forget them and you can concentrate fully on your current topic again.

4. Check off the task / mark the work status

After the first 25 minutes have passed, check off your previously noted work assignment on the piece of paper or mark your previous learning progress in your documents in order to make it easier to return to work after the break.

5. Give yourself a 5 minute break

During the five-minute break, you are free to do whatever you want. You can take a short walk, have a bite to eat and drink, or organize private affairs. However, it is crucial that you do not do any tasks associated with your distance learning during this time, but really switch off from it. After that, move on to the next Pomodoro block.

6. Take a long break after 4 Pomodori blocks

If you have studied 25 minutes four times and paused in between, treat yourself to a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes. If you briefly recapitulate what you have learned at the beginning and end of a Pomodoros, you will learn even more effectively.

Benefits & Advantages: What are the benefits of learning Pomodoro?

If you follow the individual steps of the Pomodoro technique conscientiously, you can significantly improve your time management and work behavior in the long term. In distance learning, large tasks such as exam preparation, term papers or theses often seem intimidating. Reading even an extensive script in a concentrated manner can be difficult for you with the abundance of “tempting” distractions such as your smartphone, Facebook or your own emails. If you divide these to-dos into Pomodori blocks, you can work through them gradually in smaller units. This will prevent you from postponing extensive and important exams out of worry or fear.

In addition, the regular breaks help you to work focused over a longer period of time. They reduce the likelihood of overworking, getting sick or even suffering burnout in the long run. The breaks also give your brain short recovery phases in which it can process the newly learned information. At the same time, the narrow work phases appear very valuable. As a result, you want to get a lot done in this time.

In the long run, you will get a good sense of how much time, that is, Pomodori blocks, you need for certain coursework. In this way, future academic achievements can be managed in a realistic schedule. If you also collect ready-made to-do lists, you have the opportunity to find out about your learning progress and the completed tasks with a positive feeling. Overall, the Pomodoro technique promises you that you will give your life a better balance of work and leisure. Because the more productively and effectively you design your everyday learning, the sooner and more extensively you can enjoy your free time with a clear conscience.

Which programs help with the Pomodoro technique?

In addition to the classic kitchen clock, there are many other programs and apps on the Internet that take over the time measurement for the Pomodoro technology. This includes platform-independent web applications such as TomatoTimer and Marinara Timer, with which you can measure the work phase and the two breaks.

TomatoTimer offers timepieces for the work phase as well as the big and small break.

If you would like to use your smartphone for Pomodoro learning, there are also free apps for iOS and Android-operated mobile devices with additional functions that are subject to a fee: Flat Tomato and ClearFocus.

Flat Tomato is available for iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch.

Should you succumb to the temptation to distract yourself by surfing the Internet on your PC, you can also use the Strict Workflow Chrome extension to block access to websites of your choice for the 25-minute work phase. If you use a project management tool like Trello for your studies, the Chrome app Pomello supports you in processing your Trello cards directly in Pomodori blocks.

With Pomello you can turn your Trello cards into Pomodori tasks.

With the Pomodoro Technique, you can improve your work behavior by concentrating on long-term work and also effectively coping with major academic achievements. In addition, this method also helps you outside of your further training with professional or private errands.

If you finally want to switch off from distance learning after a successful Pomodoro learning day, here are some ideas for leisure activities.