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Pomodoro Technique: A 2019 Step-By-Step Guide | Best Study Tips

Pomodoro Technique: A 2019 Step-By-Step Guide | Best Study Tips

This blog post is a guide to the Pomodoro Technique, including what it is, how it works, and what apps might be helpful in getting used to this technique.

If you are interested in this topic, you should also check out our Study Skills: 15 Study Skills you NEED to succeed at school or University article.

Table of Contents

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a study technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo and got its name from the Pomodoro shaped kitchen timer that he used to measure the 25 min spent on each task - more about that later.

This study technique is mainly used by people who struggle with procrastination and low focus and concentration on a task.

The idea behind the technique is that you can break down a task that seems overwhelming and unmanageable into chunks. By doing so, the separate chunks suddenly do not feel so overwhelming anymore.

Additionally, you use a time management schedule and a specific routine to help you stick to the task you are doing, helping you to accomplish the task as efficiently as possible.

Francesco Cirillo’s motto is “work smarter, not harder” and this basic idea is at the core of this technique.

Pomodoro Technique Explained

How does this technique work then? On his website, Francesco Cirillo has broken down the technique into 6 steps.

1. Choose a task you’d like to get done

2. Set the Pomodoro (or any other timer) for 25 min

3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings

4. When the Pomodoro rings put a checkmark on a paper

5. Take a short break

6. Every four Pomodoros take a longer break

The most important aspect of this technique is that while studying, i.e. during the Pomodoro, you are only focussing on that task. You are not checking Facebook, staring into the air, looking at your notifications etc.

If you suddenly think of another related task that needs to be done, you write it on your piece of paper but then go back to your task. This technique does not only feel rewarding because you get stuff done, but because you learn to appreciate your progress along the way.

Giving yourself a checkmark and physically ticking something off that long list is motivating.

Another important aspect of this technique is that it teaches you about the tasks themselves and about your own skillset and learning. By trying to break down one big task into chunks that can be done in 25 min, you learn how much time each part requires and how much you can get done in one cycle of 4 Pomodoros.

This technique will also help you in finding what your objectives are.

By being organized and writing down a to-do list of what needs to be done and by breaking it down to meet all deadlines, both external or set by yourself, you will figure out what you want to get done.

The Pomodoro technique can be applied to all sorts of tasks. You could use it to study from a book, to write an essay, to do your weekly admin stuff, etc.

When studying for an exam, you might want to spend the first minutes of each cycle or Pomodoro to review what has been previously learned.

In all cases, the Pomodoro technique is a rewarding way of studying because you actually get stuff done, the task feels less overwhelming while you do it, and you monitor your progress and your achievements.

At the same time, once you got the hang of the technique, it should be easier to plan future studying. You will be able to estimate the time and effort needed to complete a task before starting it, which might make the task itself feel less daunting.

Be sure to make effective use of the breaks as well. Between the 4 Pomodoros of each cycle, you might want to get up to refill your glass of water, go for a short walk, chat to a friend or do something else that is relaxing and not related to studying.

However, you might find it distracting to check your phone during these breaks or to do something that could distract you for longer than you intended. In the breaks between the Pomodoro cycles, you will have more time to maybe have lunch, read a book or do some exercise.

There are people who use this technique as a starting point rather than carrying it all the way through.

If you are finding it difficult to get started on a task, but once you get going, you would rather spend a little more time than 25 min, then you could still find the Pomodoro technique useful.

This might especially be the case when writing an essay. When planning the essay, searching for literature and writing the first draft, the Pomodoro technique could be useful.

However, once you start writing the second draft or editing the paper, you might want to spend more than 25 min at a time because you got into the flow of things.

It is possible to integrate this technique, as well as any other study technique, into what rhythm works best for you and the task you are trying to accomplish.

A great feature of this particular technique is how easy it is and how little time it takes to try it out.

While there is no need for you to become a certified Pomodoro master, this video summarizes the main points and gives you some further insights into getting the most out of using it.

List of Pomodoro Technique apps

As mentioned earlier, the Pomodoro technique is remarkably simple and all you really need is a sheet of paper to keep track of your work and a timer such as the one on your phone.

Nevertheless, a quick look at the app store shows you that there are plenty of additional apps to keep track of your time, study progress and breaks. Some of these apps are not specifically tailored to the Pomodoro technique but will reward you for not checking your phone while studying.

Whether you want or need to use these apps to keep the focus is up to you. You might, in fact, find it more distracting to interact with your phone rather than getting done with the task straight away. 

Most of these apps will offer extra features on top of the Pomodoro technique timer and the to-do list which you may or may not find beneficial.

These features could include statistics on your progress, as well as functions to add recurring tasks and notifications - these could include learning vocabulary or taking notes on a regular basis, for example, every Monday evening at 5 pm.

Our favourite Pomodoro technique iOS Apps

1) Focus Keeper

2) Be Focused - Focus Timer

3) Tide

Our favourite Pomodoro technique Android Apps

1) FocusBooster

2) Toggl

3) Clockwork Tomato

Other guaranteed methods to get better at studying

If you want another way to help you with your studies, you should try a brain supplement, such as BrainZyme®.

It has been touted "herbal Adderall" and "natural modafinil", and has been scientifically proven to support concentration, mental performance, motivation and the reduction of tiredness in under one hour. All while using naturally-sourced and vegan ingredients.

For effects most similar to popular 'study drugs', such as Modafinil and Adderall, we recommend BrainZyme Professional as it acts on the dopamine pathways in your brain, similar to how these pharmaceuticals do.

Click on the link if you’d like to learn more about how BrainZyme can help you be more productive and smash your exams.
If you have any tips that help you study better, let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends so that they too can learn this amazing studying technique.

Related articles


Bloom, K. C., & Shuell, T. J. (1981). Effects of Massed and Distributed Practice on the Learning and Retention of Second-Language Vocabulary. The Journal of Educational Research, 74(4), 245-248
Butler, A. C., & III, H. L. R. (2007). Testing improves long-term retention in a simulated classroom setting. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19(4-5), 514-527. 
Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger, H. L. (2008). The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning. Science, 319(5865), 966-968. 
Krätzig, G. P., & Arbuthnott, K. D. (2006). Perceptual learning style and learning proficiency: A test of the hypothesis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 238-246. 
Larsen, D. P., Butler, A. C., & Iii, H. L. R. (2013). Comparative effects of test-enhanced learning and self-explanation on long-term retention. Medical Education, 47(7), 674-682. 
Newton, P. M. (2015). The Learning Styles Myth is Thriving in Higher Education. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. 
Roediger, H. L., & Butler, A. C. (2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in long-term retention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(1), 20-27. 
The Pomodoro Technique® - proudly developed by Francesco Cirillo | Cirillo Consulting GmbH. (n.d.). 
12 Best Pomodoro Timers to Try. (n.d.).

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  • Hi Arianna,

    Good question!

    Both can be used in conjunction with each other.

    Cornell Notes is a system of taking better notes and the Pomodoro Technique is a time management system.

    What you could do, for example, is if you are writing up notes from recorded lectures is to use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time, and the Cornell Notes system to take the notes in a more efficient way if that makes sense?

    Using multiple strategies like this can really improve your productivity.

    I hope this helps!

    Robert (Mod) on

  • I’ve just read both this and your article about cornell notes.

    Which is better for studying?

    Arianna on

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