Student Guide


Exam season is coming and there never seems to be enough time to prepare for everything, especially with online classes and a global pandemic going on. Luckily, here's one tried and tested method to help you tackle your busy review schedule.

/ 4 November 2020

The Pomodoro Technique, developed by university student Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, is a time management method designed to take apart overwhelming mounds of work in little pieces, with breaks in-between to have more efficient work sessions. Pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato, signifies Cirillo’s tomato-shaped timer which inspired the whole process.

To keep you productive and responsible with your time management, let’s get right to it — here’s a step-by-step guide to conquer your to-do list with The Pomodoro Technique:


  1. Pick a task

    Pick one task or subject you have to work on from that pile you can’t wait to get rid of. Maybe dedicate one whole session to “Review for Science Exam” or “Write Term Paper,” and get everything you need to accomplish it. Remember that this will be the one thing you’ll focus on for a period of time, taking it apart to complete it bit by bit. So it might be best to choose the one that’s most urgent in time.

  2. Set your timer to 25 minutes

    Once you know what task to focus on, grab your phone and set an alarm for 25 minutes. Setting that marker under half an hour reframes your mind to not be as overwhelmed with the whole assignment, as it makes you think that it that doesn’t really require that much time. Just do one 25-minute sprint at a time, and before you know it, you’ve got the whole thing done.

  3. Focus on your task until the timer rings

    Promise yourself that you’ll work on this one particular exercise with no distractions until your phone tells you you’ve done enough in 25 minutes. An important note is to silence your phone (including disabling vibrations!) so it doesn’t distract you with unessential notifications during work time. Virtually splitting up your tasks to little time slots will make sure that you get things done without drowning from the sheer thought of the size of your work.

  4. Take a break

    The time we’ve been waiting for! You deserve a short break after dedicating time to focus solely on your work. With breaks in-between, you have a small reward system to keep you motivated to go through each session, and it prevents you from mental burnout that usually comes from long periods of time doing nothing but work. Just make sure to time your breaks as well, perhaps a quick 5-10 minute bathroom or snack break to get your energized for the next session.

  5. For every 4 “pomodoros,” take a longer break

    Keep this system going until you’re done with the whole task. For every 4 pomodoro sessions, that should be about 2 hours, take a longer break of 30 minutes to keep your sanity in check. Hopefully by then, you’ll be finished with the entire term paper, or review session, and you can call it a day or move on to a different task altogether. If not, and you’re still working on the same thing, just keep on dedicating those short 25-minute sessions. And the next thing you’ll know, you’re already finished with your to-do list!

The Pomodoro Technique basically gets you on this routine and system of dividing tasks, going on deep focus work sessions, and rewarding yourself with breaks. It’s perfect when you don’t really want to get to work, but you know you have to, so you can just take it 25 minutes at a time, and see how far along it takes you. Conquer all your term papers, exams, and modules one step at a time without sacrificing your mental health, and we might just survive and thrive this online academic year.