Improve Your Focus with the Pomodoro Technique

06 June, 2017

If you are like many language students, you might have a problem with procrastination.

Perhaps you are slow to do homework or study for a test. Maybe you do not like to study or you become distracted while studying.

Whatever the case may be, learning how to focus can help you have more useful study sessions.

Improve Your Focus with the Pomodoro Technique
Improve Your Focus with the Pomodoro Technique

What are some ways to help you stop procrastinating?

In this Education Report, we will explore one method to help you focus: the Pomodoro technique.

What is the Pomodoro technique?

Francesco Cirillo created the Pomodoro technique in the 1980s. Cirillo was a college student at the time. He used a timer shaped like a tomato to help him focus on his school work. Pomodoro is the Italian word for the fruit, by the way.

The technique works like this: you set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a task until the timer rings.

Take a short break - around five minutes - then re-set the device.

After several 25-minute study sessions, you should take a longer break – anywhere from 15-30 minutes, writes Cirillo.

Cirillo suggests recording the number of Pomodoro sessions you complete. He also suggests getting organized and planning for future study sessions so that you can complete the most important work first.

The important point of this method is to help you focus and stop postponing work.

Procrastination and Language Learning

Procrastination, says Dr. Barbara Oakley, is one of the biggest issues in language learning.

Oakley is the creator of the most popular Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, in the world. The class is called "Learning How to Learn."

Oakley, a professor of engineering, also has years of experience in language learning. She studied Russian and worked as a translator on a ship when Russia was part of the Soviet Union.

The Pomodoro technique, she says, is the best way to help overcome procrastination.

The technique goes beyond just setting a timer, adds Oakley. She notes the importance of turning off anything that might distract you while studying, such as a cell phone.

Also, the important part about the technique is to train your brain to enjoy learning.

Oakley explains that you should treat yourself after focusing for 25 minutes:

"And when you are done, give yourself a little reward. Listen to a song you like, or get up and move around or chat – you know, just some kind of reward. And that reward will help wire your brain so it more enjoys the actual process of learning."

What can you do?

The next time you have to study give the Pomodoro technique a try. Set a timer for 25 minutes and try to focus as much as possible during that time period. Then give yourself a reward for your hard work. Maybe get yourself something to eat or drink.

You can find free timers on the Internet. They can help you with the Pomodoro technique. Or you can use an old-fashioned timer.

The tool you choose to use is not important. What is important is that you avoid distractions and train your mind to enjoy learning.

Give the Pomodoro technique a try, and let us know how it works for you.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.


Words in This Story

procrastinate – v. to be slow or late about doing something that should be done; to delay doing something

procrastination – n. the act of being slow or late about doing something that should be done.

distracted – adj. unable to think about or pay attention to something; unable to think clearly about something

focus – v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific

task – n. a piece of work that has been given to someone; a job for someone to do

session – n. a period of time that is used to do a particular activity