It's a cold evening in Hamilton. I’m sitting in the comfiest chair I could find, in a dark little corner of Thode Library at McMaster, scrolling through Twitter mindlessly. The clock on the wall catches my eye and I feel a jolt run through my body. I’ve been sitting here, doing absolutely nothing, for 45 whole minutes. Once again, I’ve gotten distracted, pushing aside my biology lab report, and opting to potentially sink my GPA just to read tweets. I feel like an absolute failure.
That evening was when I realized how horrific my study habits truly were. I realized I was unable to remain productive for as long as I’d like, often switching between tasks for hours feeling lost and dazed. Feeling a little bit embarrassed about my lack of productivity, I decided to look online for help rather than asking my peers. I stumbled across a few YouTubers in varying stages of university, with channels dedicated to vlogging their days in the libraries, documenting their time as students. Not only were these vlogs very interesting, but I learnt about the vast variety of study methods that exist. Every student seemed to study differently, but one specific method stuck out to me: the Pomodoro Technique.
The premise is simple, really: set up a timer for 25 minutes and keep working on one single task until the timer finishes, then take a five minute break and repeat this three more times.
I decided to try it out and realized it was very effective. Since the timer is only set to 25 minutes, it does not feel as daunting as the one hour long study sessions I used to subject myself to. That made it a lot easier for me to feel motivated enough to get started and maintain that level of motivation throughout my session, knowing that I’d be able to use my phone or go for a quick walk very soon. The five minute break is also strategically placed. It’s just enough time to scroll through your phone and refresh your brain while not being sucked into the endless sea of Tiktok. This technique also increased my accountability, as I now had a way to measure how much work I was actually completing during a study session. Once I was able to figure out how long specific tasks would take me (i.e. writing a lab report, finishing a chapter of reading, etc.) I was able to schedule my tasks throughout the day more efficiently. If writing a lab report took me two hours using the Pomodoro technique, I could schedule two hours and feel confident in using the rest of the night to work on something else. This technique proved to be beneficial in areas outside of school as well, such as my administrative role at my place of work. Knowing how long certain tasks would take me allowed me to report my expectations to my manager. This meant I could give them a solid timeline for projects or tasks and live up to those deadlines.
The Pomodoro Technique seems like such a simple solution to a complicated problem, almost too simple. However, when implemented properly, it can benefit your productivity in ways you could not have imagined. I found the Pomodoro Technique not only improved my grades and quality of work, but also my mental health. I felt more accomplished at the end of the day and significantly less burnt out. The Pomodoro Technique gave me a sense of control over my own time. Catching a glimpse of the clock will never terrify me again.
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour IV @ McMaster University
Campus Ambassador @ LEAP Canada
About The Author
Rija (she/her) is a Campus Ambassador for LEAP Canada and has always been passionate about mentoring incoming/current university students, working with them to help them find their strengths and excel in their passions. When Rija is not studying or mentoring students, she can be found practicing embroidery, playing with her cat Simba, and rewatching Modern Family for the fourteenth tim