Using the Pomodoro Technique to study for the BOC Exam is perhaps the easiest time-management/productivity strategy that everyone can use – no special apps or complex technology is required. Just set a timer and use it!
Francesco Cirillo, a developer, entrepreneur, and author invented the technique in the early 1990s.
Cirillo discovered that we’re most effective when we break work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) separated by short breaks.
A fun fact: Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used as a university student.
The system involves working in short bursts of 25 minutes, with 5-minute breaks, to increase motivation, creativity, and efficiency.
Scientific literature also supports this theory. Regular breaks have been shown to greatly improve focus and concentration for extended periods.
Researchers from the University of Illinois have demonstrated that taking short breaks from a task can greatly improve one’s ability to focus for extended periods.
A lead researcher explained that “most papers treated attention as a limited resource that would run out over time…but you always pay attention to something… Attention is not the problem…prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”.
Researchers tested participants’ abilities to focus on a repetitive computerized task for an hour under various conditions. They divided 84 participants into four groups:
- The control group completed the 50-minute task without breaks or diversions.
- The “switch” group and the “no-switch” group memorized 4 digits before performing the task, and responded and took a break if they saw one of the digits during the task. During the 50-minute experiment, only the switch group was presented with digits (twice).
- During the task, the “digit-ignored” group was shown the same digits as the switch group, but were told to ignore them.
As predicted, the individuals’ performance decreased over the course of the task, but those in the switch group did not see a decline over time. By taking two short breaks from their main task (to respond to the digits), they were able to maintain focus throughout the experiment.
Researchers concluded that, when faced with long tasks, you should take short breaks to help stay focused.
In light of this evidence, the Pomodoro technique becomes even more essential. But how does it work in practice? It goes like this:
- Choose a task that you would like to complete.
- Set the timer for 25 minutes (Pomodoro).
- Keep working until the timer rings.
- Repeat the process after a short break of five minutes.
- After every four “Pomodoros”, take a longer break of 15/20 minutes before starting again with the “25 minutes on/ 5 minutes off” cycle.
This technique’s simplicity makes it appealing. The only thing you need is a timer. There are many mobile apps, and even a Chrome extension, with the Pomodoro system built-in.
In addition to improving performance and results, there are other benefits as well. By managing distractions, it can help to improve focus, concentration, productivity, and efficiency.
The process of breaking down large tasks into manageable periods can also help you feel less daunted by the whole scope of the assignment – allowing you to manage expectations more effectively and more accurately keep track of your time spent on the job.
Even so, some people find the timer to be too rigid. Like other strategies, sometimes you can’t control what interrupts your BOC exam studies – for instance, you may have to deal with a problem at home or work. The Pomodoro method can have built-in flexibility, and some apps let you pause the timer.
In my opinion, the 20/25 minutes should not be viewed as an absolutely rigid timeframe that you have to follow – if you are focused and feel like you need 5-10 extra minutes to complete the work you are doing, then take a break.
In other words, utilize the Pomodoro technique to prepare for the BOC exam but don’t become reliant on it!
Remember that REGULAR BREAKS ARE ESSENTIAL TO YOUR PRODUCTIVITY when studying for the BOC exam.