Author: Shriya V R
Ever wondered for how long your concentration lasts? It’s been proven that an average human can focus only for as long as 40-45 minutes. Yes, only 45 minutes. Now you know why we can’t finish the whole syllabus at a stretch or maybe pull an all-nighter successfully. Work that is done, supposedly with a constant level of concentration for a long period, is most likely to be average. Breaking down a huge task into smaller parts and achieving smaller goals ultimately resulting in the completion of the bigger goal is considered more effective. We trick our brain into doing the work as it seems like a small task.
Apart from long and continuous periods of work, not taking breaks is another common mistake. Often in the stress of completing a deadline, we overlook the effectiveness of taking breaks in between. We think that it might increase the amount of work done, but on the contrary, it decreases our level of productivity. Breaks are considered as an essential part of a study plan. They are like incentives for the brain to work better. Put in other words, you bribe your brain by saying “If you concentrate for 2 hours, we’ll do fun stuff after that during the break”. The brain gets tricked into this thereby getting more work done. During breaks, it is better to leave the desk or place of work and do something fun that would put you off from thinking about work.
One technique taking into account both these things to optimize working time and increase productivity is the Pomodoro Technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s, in this technique a period of 25 minutes, each called a Pomodoro, is assigned to do work. The final goal is broken down into smaller tasks and finished in one or few pomodoros. After each Pomodoro, you take a break of 5 minutes. After four pomodoros, you take a 15-minute break. This continues until the goal is completed. But this schedule is to be followed very strictly. No breaks are other than the defined breaktime. Thus, the concentration levels being high for only short periods and regular breaks in between gets more work done than long hours of continuous work.
You can find plenty of apps, called Pomodoro Timers, to follow the technique or else use a simple timer. Using these apps, you can also set the length of one Pomodoro ranging from 25 minutes to 45 minutes. As much as there are pros to this, some people find the Pomodoro technique not quite useful. Each Pomodoro being only 25 minutes, some people might feel that a break after that time only cuts down their concentration just when it was building up. However, this works differently from person to person. So, you wouldn’t know if it works until you try it out yourself, would you?
P.S. – Did you know that Cirillo named this technique after a countdown timer he had, which was shaped like a tomato? ‘Pomodoro’ means tomato in Italian.