Time management hacks - How I study one semester's worth of lectures using one day

Time management hacks

When my friends take five days to study for one subject, I take one day instead. This gives me 4 days free. With this 4 days, I can do other things. I read, and write, and dabble into something interesting.

I don't compromise on the quality too. Even though I spent eighty percent less time, my results are always the same, if not better, than my peers. If I can consistently spend less time, and do more, there must be a systematic way I plan my time.

A virtuous cycle

Because I spend less time on my work, I end up having more free time. With this free time, I read and learn about new things. The next time I have work, I end up spending less time because I already have better knowledge to begin with.

But I know, even if I were to waste my free time away, I would still end up spending less time than most people. That's because I can manage my time, and focus on my tasks very effectively. I use this technique, called the Pomodoro technique.

Introducing the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time-management method designed by Francesco Cirillo. It is used to help people manage their time better, to focus on each tasks effectively, and avoid burnout. I can vouch for its effectiveness.

How does it work?

You have to break up your time into chunks, and these chunks are called Pomodoros. A Pomodoro is actually a type of tomato, but in this case, they are time chunks instead. These time chunks are 25 minutes each, and you do your work during this period.

Remove yourself from all distractions when you are in a Pomodoro, and focus only on the task until the 25 minutes is up. Once a Pomodoro has been completed, mark somewhere that you have completed one Pomodoro. And, take a short break. A 5 minutes break is enough.

This short break is important. It gives you time to recharge, and do whatever you need to. You can go check your phone for messages, read some emails, or read some soccer news. Once the break is up, go back and continue on your work on the next Pomodoro.

Keep repeating this, and keep marking down every completed Pomodoro. When you have achieved 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break. I usually take a 15 minutes break. It gives me enough time to rest, yet doesn't overly bore me with too much time.

Estimate your work in Pomodoros and beat your own high score

When I study for my modules in university, I always use the Pomodoro technique. For the module that I completed in one day, I used a total of 20 Pomodoros. It translates to about 10 hours of studying, where I started from 10 am, and ended at around 9 pm at night.

If you asked me to continuously study for 10 hours straight, I think I would have given up. Instead, the Pomodoro method helped me focus when I needed to, and rest before I burnt out.

According to research, most people complete around 8 to 12 Pomodoros each day, which also means they have about 4 to 6 hours of productive time daily. Try to challenge yourself, and beat your own Pomodoro high score.

When I first started using the Pomodoro technique, I completed around 10 Pomodoros. I thought it was already a good achievement, but I constantly try to better my own record. Today, my high score is 20.

What tools do I need?

If you went online, and searched for Pomodoro tools, you would come across the Pomodoro timer. It resembles those kitchen timers used for baking, where you set your own time, and the ringer goes off when the time is up.

It is good, but I doubt not everyone would want to buy one. It isn't cheap as well, where the official website sells 8 such timers for €60. But these days, everyone has a smartphone. I would say, go and download a Pomodoro Timer app.

What I recommend

A Pomodoro Timer app works best when it is simple. Just a simple timer to start and stop your Pomodoros, short breaks, and long breaks, and notify you when time is up. Also, make sure it has a way to track your Pomodoro streak automatically, so you can get a motivation to beat your own high score, and not give up when you haven't done much yet.

For Android users, I have developed a simple Pomodoro Timer - Productivity app. You can check it out here: link. It is entirely free for you.

And yes, this app is created using the free time created from only taking one day to revise one semester's worth of lectures.
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