Instead of building an app or website with us on Treehouse, you’re reading this blog post. You’re not focused.
I get it. This happens to me all the time. I try to maintain focus on something, but end up taking a “quick break” to click on a link that popped up on my social media feed.
Then I can’t stop. I end up in a rabbit hole of information and before I know it, I’m looking at my high school acquaintance’s cousin’s wedding photos. I’m happy they had a great time on the dancefloor, but that’s not how I intended to spend my precious time.
After years of being sucked into the Internet hole, I finally found a way out: the Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. Originally started as a kitchen tomato timer (hence the name), it works like this: you set a timer for 25 minutes. During that time you focus strictly on the task at hand. Then you take a five-minute break. During that break is when you give yourself permission to dive into all the distractions you put off during your focus time.
In the third round, you take a much deserved 15-minute break where you can cruise around Distractionville. (Social media does have its merits; ironically, I learned about the Pomodoro technique from a tweet.)
Think it can help you? This approach has been life-changing for me.
As a teacher, I sometimes have to script out pretty complex concepts. Before using the Pomodoro Technique, I would intentionally look for a distraction when I got to a difficult part because as it turns out, our brains are wired to do just that. These numerous clicks would lead to me to some obscure part of the language, and I’d find myself in a knee deep in a wiki-hole. I’d end up with an overwhelming feeling of fear that I’d never be able to finish.
Now when I get that itch to surf, I look at my timer and see that I’ll be able to take my break in 7 minutes and 18 seconds. I tell myself to power through. And you know what? It works. I’m able to squeeze out what I was trying to explain with that extra bit of dedicated focus. The content itself is also more cohesive.
I’ve now started using the Pomodoro Technique for everything. Not only do I use it while I script my courses, I use it while I code. I find the highly sought-after flow state to be more attainable once those Twitter bings! have been silenced.
I’m such a fan of the technique that I even used it in my Build a JavaFX Application course to teach you how to build a GUI desktop app. The application? An interactive pomodoro timer, of course, complete with an applause sound effect when you’re done with your focus time. Because you deserve it.
Your fellow students love the technique. It helps them pay attention to the learning tasks at hand, therefore keeping them on track with their longer-term career goals. On top of that, they also feel like they have more time to spend on other important things: family, projects, video games, etc.
Okay, you can stop reading now. Go watch this awesome video from Pasan on the Pomodoro Technique and keep me posted on how it works for you. And if you want to help others focus, please share this blog post through your favorite distraction channels. During your break time, of course.