Learning How to Learn and Pomodoro Technique

I was taking the above coursera course – Learning How to Learn. It was a great course about how to learn effectively, which introduces learning methodologies based on how human brain works. There are various topics covered in the course, but which I started to apply right now is the Pomodoro Technique.

It’s a time management method which uses 25 minutes timer. Wikipedia describes as follows, and also there’re various web sites which covers this topic.


There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

  1. Decide on the task to be done
  2. Set the pomodoro timer to n minutes (traditionally 25)
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
  4. Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
  5. After four pomodori, take a longer break (15–30 minutes)

I once tried to use more complex time-management system, but failed to keep using them. But this pretty-much simple process of Pomodoro works well. I regularly use todo list for managing daily work, but I sometimes face several issues, like

  • Procrastinate large tasks by starting from small ones.
    It’s easier to close smaller tasks and tends not to do the large or difficult work. Looking at task list, just completing a task drives the motivation, and then results in keep repeating on smaller tasks. Or, just avoid working on tasks and start playing games instead.
  • Feel bad about incomplete tasks at the end of the day.
    Over-time, tasks are piling up and it becomes difficult to complete all the tasks planned for the day. Not feeling well, and also cycle back to focusing on smaller and easier tasks.

Then, with pomodoro,

  • Just start the initial work for large tasks.
    The interesting factor of Pomodoro is structured on the “process” to take limited-and-focused time rather than focusing on “completing” tasks. It’s ok to split a large tasks into smaller ones, and also doesn’t have to feel much pressure on completing tasks on each pomodoro cycle.
  • Feel OK seeing the number of completed Pomodoro along with the todo list.
    It feels a little better to see the daily activities (with graph) based on the amount of time focused in addition to the number of completed tasks.

It’s working well to avoid procrastination. Also, it has similar agile development methodology. Rather than planning for the task completion beforehand, just start with small chunk and run as fast as you can. Then, We can adjust the direction between pomodoro or at the end of the day.

In a longer term, planning process is definitely important, but it can raise the threshold of taking actions. The fear of planning and completion requirement can cause the procrastination. This short period time of sprints and periodical retrospection would be a good approach to maintain the speed of the work.

Posted on January 31, 2015, in Web. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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