College Life, Health & Wellness, Mental Health

What Is The Pomodoro Technique For Students? Putting It To The Test

pomodoro technique for students

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Celeste MacMurray. Find her on Instagram at @clsmsanchezx. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

If you’re a student of any kind, you know how taxing homework assignments can be on the mind and body. We all lead very full and busy lives, and sitting at a desk and doing homework for hours straight is the last thing any of us want to be doing. If you’re anything like me, I often struggle to stay concentrated on the tasks at hand especially if there’s no end in sight for the homework I’m doing. I try to take breaks here and there, but I either end up distracted or feel antsy about the work I’ve yet to complete.

When I first heard of the Pomodoro Technique, I was curious and wondered just how effective it was. Would I really be able to stay on task? Would it really work and give me a good amount of break time to reset and continue with my tasks? I decided this weekend would be the perfect time to test it out due to the amount of assignments I have piled up. The intense throes of my midterm week have barely passed, but I still have a few projects and papers that need to be taken care of. While doing these assignments I decided to test out the method once and for all.

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Essentially, the Pomodoro Technique is meant to help students stay on task and boost productivity, but how do we know if this method is actually effective? The technique was created by a fellow student named Francesco Cirillo in 1987 who was trying to study for exams himself. He tested out different intervals best for staying focused to complete tasks, and while doing this his kitchen timer just happened to be in the shape of a tomato. This is where the technique gets its name from as “pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato.” In his trial and error, Cirillo found that twenty-five minute intervals with five minute breaks repeated four times then followed by a longer break worked the best. Thus the Pomodoro Technique was born.

Here’s how it works: a “pomodoro” is one twenty-five minute interval full of work and one five minute interval for a break. Each twenty-five and five minute interval paired together counts as one pomodoro, and after completing four pomodoros you are meant to take a longer break between fifteen to thirty minutes long. During your pomodoro you’re meant to work to the best of your abilities for twenty-five minutes, then during your break do what you need to do to relax. When you’re on your break, there’s no sneak working on your assignments, no thinking about what you need to do, just relaxing. Some of the benefits associated with this technique are better time management, better focus, you can approach your tasks with less fear and anxiety and it’s less harsh on the mind and body.

I found that the technique really worked for me personally, and what I liked most about the method was how finite twenty-five minutes feels. What gets me down when I’m doing homework is thinking about how long it’s going to take me and not knowing when I’m going to finish. Twenty-five minutes, however, is such a short amount of time that I can easily visualize when it will end and not feel burdened by the time. Being able to take a five minute break afterwards felt like a nice reward, and I spent that time either stretching, eating a snack or even watching the latest show I’ve been binging. After completing four pomodoros, my favorite part was being able to take that longer break. I opted for a full thirty minutes for mine because I knew it’s what I needed to feel refreshed and to reset. Whenever I do taxing homework assignments, I feel fatigued and become especially restless. In the past I’ve tried to take breaks to prevent these feelings, but the way I did them before never really helped with that. However, with the Pomodoro Technique and after taking intermittent breaks, I didn’t get that restless feeling, and my thirty minute break offered me the chance to reset and return to my homework feeling refreshed.

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The only drawback I can think of when it comes to the Pomodoro Technique is that you cannot use it on any last minute assignments that you’ve been procrastinating. This technique is meant for assignments you have ample time to complete and work on, so if you have an 11:59 deadline you need to meet, this method may not work because every minute counts. One of the assignments I worked on while trying out this technique was one I had been procrastinating, and it wasn’t the best fit. While the method did work well at helping me get work done and providing time to take breaks, some of my breaks I simply bulldozed over so I could finish my assignment. That being said, the point of this technique is to boost productivity and to improve time management, and hopefully by implementing it we can find ways to become better at finishing our assignments in a timely manner.

Have you ever tried the Pomodoro Technique before? Did it work for you? If not, tell us why and what study techniques you prefer!

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