What is a Pomodoro Timer and does it work?

Everything you need to know about the Pomodoro Timer method of studying!

For some children, self-initiated study and revision can feel like a never-ending marathon that leaves them feeling drained. But with the Pomodoro Timer, studying can be much more manageable for them.

The Pomodoro Timer is a time management technique that breaks work and revision into focused chunks, followed by refreshing breaks. This might sound too simple to work, but its popularity in schools, offices, and homes suggests otherwise. Named after the Italian for 'tomato' (thanks to the inventor's tomato-shaped timer), the Pomodoro Technique can help students focus and get more done.

Pomodoro Timer technique

Let’s do a quick history lesson on the Pomodoro Timer technique!

Back in the 1980s, Francesco Cirillo, a struggling university student, knew there had to be a better way to study. He grabbed a tomato-shaped kitchen timer and challenged himself to focus for just 10 minutes. It worked surprisingly well, leading to the full Pomodoro Technique.

The classic Pomodoro method

The best thing about the Pomodoro Timer method? It’s really simple! Here’s a quick break down of how it works: 

  1. Choose a task you need to complete.

  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.

  3. Work intensely, without distractions, until the timer rings.

  4. Take a 5-minute break – move around, get a snack, or just relax.

  5. Repeat steps 2-4 three more times.

  6. After four 'Pomodoros', take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.

Who should use it?

Students love the Pomodoro method for beating procrastination and focusing on revision, but it's not just for schoolwork. Office workers, writers, programmers, artists – anyone who needs to boost their productivity and tackle tough tasks can benefit. So getting used to this method of working early can be really beneficial for students as they go through their school careers and on into their working lives.

Does Pomodoro work?

Did you know there's science behind the Pomodoro Technique? 

Studies have shown that working in focused bursts with regular breaks can improve your attention span and help you retain more information. Our brains aren't built for continuous focus over long periods; mental fatigue sets in, and our concentration wanes. We start strong but focus inevitably dips. The Pomodoro Technique's short breaks help us stay in the prime zone of that curve, maximising our cognitive performance.

How to use a Pomodoro Study timer

Ready to put the Pomodoro Technique to the test? Here's a step-by-step guide to using a Pomodoro timer for studying (or any other task!):

  1. Plan ahead: List your tasks for the day and break them into smaller parts if needed. A single Pomodoro (25 minutes) might be perfect for short tasks, but larger projects might benefit from being broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

  2. Get set: Use a physical timer, an app, or a regular kitchen timer. Having a dedicated timer helps you stay focused and avoid checking the clock.

  3. Focus time: Shut out distractions – put away your phone, close extra tabs on your computer or laptop (if you’re studying with one), and dive into your work! This is your time to really focus and make progress.

  4. Break it up: When the timer rings, step away from your work! Stretch, have a drink, or do something unrelated to your work. Getting up and moving around helps to refresh your mind and body.

  5. Repeat and reward: Complete three or four Pomodoro cycles, then give yourself a longer break – you've earned it! Think of these breaks as mini rewards for staying focused.

Other ways to make use of a Pomodoro Timer

Pomodoro Timers aren’t just great for work or study; they have many practical uses in day-to-day life too.

  • Tackling chores: Cleaning seems less daunting in small sprints. Try a 25-minute power cleaning session!

  • Creative bursts: Break big projects (writing, painting, etc.) into manageable Pomodoro sessions.

  • Skill practice: Make the most of your music or language practice with focused sessions.

  • Overcoming feelings overwhelmed: A Pomodoro helps you take that first step on a big task.

A new way to learn

At Explore Learning we’re big believers in tailoring learning strategies to every individual student. Our tutors are bursting with great ideas to help your child get the most out of their tuition sessions with us, and they’ll get to know your child so they can decide what works best for them. 

If you want to find out more about how our maths and English tuition works, why not book a free trial?

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Biwer, F., Wiradhany, W., Egbrink. M. and De Bruin, A. (2023) ‘Understanding effort regulation: Comparing “Pomodoro” breaks and self-regulated breaks’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(S2), pp. 353–367. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12593

Ismail, N., Putri, Z. and Noviyanti, A. (2022) ‘Pomodoro Technique Analysis in Zoom-Based Classrooms’, JEELS (Journal of English Education and Linguistics Studies), 9(1), pp. 75–96. Available at: https://doi.org/10.30762/jeels.v9i1.4298

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