Saturday, 29 December 2012

Revision Tips: Pomodoro

I'll try and keep this one short as it is the Christmas holiday now, but I know many of you will have January exams so I hope this helps. I was lucky enough to have December exams, so I've got mine out of the way. Pomodoro is a technique that was recommended to me by a good friend when I first started at university. I'll admit that I don't use it all of the time, but whenever I feel my work is grinding to a halt it gives me a structured way of focussing my revision. The theory behind it is that you do timed chunks of work with short breaks built in, and every so often you have a long break. This technique is attributed to Francesco Cirillo and I'm sure that it exists in many different forms, but this is the one I prefer to use. 

You could spend hours reading up about the subject, pay ridiculous online subscriptions and generally use reading about this revision technique to avoid as much work as possible. However, that would defeat the point, so here's some quick bullet points about how I use it.

  • I prefer to do three 'Pomodoros' to one long break, but experiment with different amounts of work.
  • During the short breaks I force myself to get out of my chair and preferably out if the room. That helps to associate my desk and room with a working environment and not somewhere that I spend my breaks. 
  • The best thing to do during a break is exercise or get fresh air, you know it's exam time when you see me doing star jumps in the back yard. 
  • The 'Pomodoros' themselves should be productive, if you can't work then just take a long break, don't sit there counting down the time until the break because you are only cheating yourself.
  • For those of you that think you aren't working hard enough, it is about quality and not quantity. In one cycle of three sessions and a long break you do one hour and fifteen minutes of work and have twenty five minutes of down time. 
  • My preferred timer is online at 'tomatoi.st' but there are loads of apps, programmes and other websites offering similar things. Just search 'Pomodoro' timer on the Internet and find one that works for you.
  • Or if you don't like having the distraction of a computer then get yourself an egg timer and note down how many work sessions and breaks you are having.
  • Just remember that this doesn't work for everyone, but its worth a try. 

Hope that helps and good luck with the exams. 

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