I don’t know about everyone else, but I sometimes find my concentration flagging, especially during exam period. Even if I actually managed to drag myself out of bed before 12pm (which was, sometimes, a bit rare) I’d find myself stationed at my desk, surrounded by books, notes, and paper, with the hours of essay writing ahead seeming like a gaping vacuum in which my happiness could never, ever survive.
This might sound a little bit dramatic, but you only have to take one glance into the glazed and soulless eyes of anyone sat in the IC past 1am to know that I’m not alone.
Fear not, however, as I’ve come across an interesting scheme that could help boost productivity by breaking apart those blocks of work that threaten to send you screaming for the hills.
The ‘Pomodoro Technique’, created by Francesco Cirello in the 1980s while a student, aims to ‘eliminate the anxiety of time’ and so ‘enhance focus and concentration’. It does this by splitting work time into little units, separated by breaks; you work for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, and work for another 25 minutes.
These 25 minute periods are called ‘pomodoros’, which is the Italian word for tomato, taken from the tomato shaped timer Cirello used to measure his little work blocks. When four of these 25 minute work slots have been completed, you then take a 15-20 minute break, before starting over. Simple.
Apparently the use of the Pomodoro Technique can help you to work more efficiently. It creates a strict time management system that demands work and productivity, as with each pomodoro completed you record an ‘X’ to measure your progress and then make a note of when your concentration waned or you were tempted to procrastinate (i.e. in this day and age, hit up Facebook or Twitter).
This way, you can track exactly how much work you’re managing to complete, rather than tricking yourself into thinking you’ve spent five hours working when actually you spent at least three trawling Tumblr for wittily captioned animated GIFs of Harry Potter.
The Technique is a pretty good basis for starting your own take on time management. I found my productivity went sky high when I took advice from our lovely Alex some time ago. She told me about how, to make herself do more work, she set her timer going on her phone to measure the minutes she was spending on essays. Every time she got distracted or did something else, she stopped the timer and restarted it only when she got back to her work
I gave this idea a whirl when I did my first lot of essays in the second semester, aiming to do a whole hour of essaying before stopping the timer each time. I found that it really helped me to see how much work I could realistically achieve, and it also kept me focused; it just seems to be good practice to plan the amount of work you want to achieve and set aside time for breaks.
Unfortunately, we can’t all be superhuman productivity machines. Using time management techniques like these, you can make sure you achieve your goals during the day and prevent yourself losing out on grades and targets to the magnetising draw of social networks.