Study Techniques 3 – The Pomodoro

Taking Short and Long Breaks Effectively

The Pomodoro technique is named because it uses a 25 minute timer. The original timer looked like a little tomato (Italian for tomato is Pomodoro). Your timer doesn’t have to look like a tomato. The point is that you set your timer for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break. Effective five-minute breaks work when you do absolutely nothing. The point is to let your brain relax. Stare out a window. Stare at a wall. Just sit quietly. At the end of five minutes you will be very bored and want to get back to work.


For longer breaks, also set a 25 minute timer. Then, when the timer goes off, immediately get back to work. Allow yourself a 25 minute break once every two hours. Short breaks in the middle of your work routine will keep you focused, and long breaks periodically will keep you from burning out.

I find that this technique is most effective when I do not force myself to do any particular project. I just do which ever project appeals to me most in that particular 25 minutes. I know I don’t have to keep doing that project. If I want to move to a different project, I can change when the next alarm goes off.