My interest in the Pomodoro Technique dates back to about a week before this class started, before I even knew what it was. I started following @jgmac1106 on Twitter because he was dropping information about #EDU522. On several occasions he would add tomato emojis to his posts. It didn’t appear that the tomatoes we replacing words necessarily, rather something symbolic in relation to his daily tasks. I asked a wide spectrum of people in my professional and personal network (students, techies, students, etc.) if they knew what it meant. The most logical idea someone came up with was that maybe it was a rotten tomato reference.
I decided to let it go until a post from @jgmac1106 appeared in #EDU522 with the tomato. I had to know, so I asked. To my surprise, it was a reference to a tool called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is used to help people stay task orientated, and manage time. The developer, Francesco Cirillo used a tomato shaped timer to establish intervals of work and break times to stay on task. He found this strategy so effective he titled it the Pomodoro (Italian word for tomato) Technique. Each Pomodoro includes 25 minutes on task, followed by a 5 minute break. After about 3 or 4 Pomodoros participants take a 15-20 minute break to recharge.
As someone who struggles immensely with staying focused and on task, I was intrigued by the concept. @jgmac1106 encouraged me to try it out for a week as an alternative to the “Digital Detox” project. I work with a lot of adult learners who struggle with staying on task, so not only was I interested in trying it for my own benefit, I hoped to share my experience with some of my students who might also benefit from this tool.
I made several attempts this week at utilizing the Pomodoro Technique. I’ve blogged about my individual experiences, but I will provide a general overview. To preface this, I will admit that my week was abnormal. I had intended on being in Cape Cod this week for a “semi” vacation. Over the last couple of years my husband has attended the Cape Cod Institute, which is a week long workshop series for mental health counselors. I opted to stay home this year in an attempt to not only focus on this class, but a couple of other projects I’m involved with. Among those projects, I needed to put in some office time as it related to student needs.
Not being in my traditional office setting already helped to limit my distractions. I work with quite a few colleagues who have turned into friends, which is a blessing, unless you need to work distraction free. These same people have been my biggest champions when it comes to tackling my MS of Education, so it’s unfair to pin all the distraction on them. I just had an opportunity this week to unplug; close windows, order delivery, turn appliances off; limit anything that would be a distraction. I took the opportunity to immerse myself in my projects. For this reason the Pomodoro Technique wasn’t as effective as it could have been in my traditional professional setting. I utilized the timer as task oriented time, but I found little value in taking breaks. When I was ready to break I needed more time to revamp.
I did learn that the Pomodoro Technique can be beneficial to people with ADHD. Professionals usually look to teach time management, and focus techniques to people with ADHD. I have found that many first year college students benefit from strategies that support time management. In reviewing testimonials I would agree that more times than not, people who have utilized this technique reap some benefits from it. Others argue that 25 minute time intervals are too specific, and can often discourage someone from starting a task if they have a <25 minute time frame. I am still on the fence, but I plan to continue to try this technique as I resume a more normal routine.