By Janet Wallace • September 07, 2011•Other Law School Issues
In 1992, a university student in Rome came up with a deceptively simple and easy-to-implement technique for staying on task and getting things done. He grabbed a bright red tomato-shaped kitchen timer, set it for 25 minutes, and committed that entire 25 minutes to a single task. After a short, timed break, he once again set the timer for 25 minutes and focused on a single task. With that, the Pomodoro (tomato in Italian) Technique was born.
The Pomodoro technique proved enormously helpful to me during law school (although, technically, I used a strawberry timer rather than a tomato (the Fragola Technique?)). I appreciated the simplicity of the process, as well as the frequent allotted breaks for stretching and refilling my coffee mug.
Here's the basic structure:
1. In the morning, create a To-Do list of the things you need to accomplish during the day.
2. Choose the topmost task from the list, set the timer for 25 minutes, and start working.
3. When the timer rings, stop working and mark the task with an X (or cross out the task if it has been completed). Take a 5 minute break. You've completed a Pomodoro.
5. Every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break (15 or 30 minutes).
Most important to the technique is this: a Pomodoro can't be interrupted; it marks 25 minutes of pure work. This means that you should not answer the telephone, check email, or chat with a classmate while the timer is ticking.
The process, although simple, can be a supremely effective time management technique. It may sound silly, but there can be a great deal of satisfaction in counting up the number of completed, uninterrupted Pomodoros at the end of the day.
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