Solving one problem, discovering a new(old) one

This week has been immensely productive study wise. I’ve managed to get an average of 3,4 pomodoros done each day, with days varying from two pomodoros to eight! While I feel like I’ve made great strides in improving my study habits already, I’ve made discoveries that prove some old habits die hard…

My father used to say when my sisters and I were younger, and he took us out skiing or hiking, that “children need many, but short breaks.” I think this holds true for adults as well. I’ve noticed while I may work for longer when I sit there, three days before the big test, cramming while strung out on caffeine and adrenaline onset by stress, my work greatly deteriorates for each hour I’m working. When I finally give up and decide that I physically cannot work anymore, the notes from the first chapters I read have hand drawn illustrations, pages upon pages of notes, and definitions for all the relevant terminology. While my notes from the final chapters are mainly keywords and references to pages in the textbook. Having those short five-minute breaks improved my mental agility, so that when each new interval started, I felt like I was starting fresh.

The timer started representing focus to me. Yet, in a strange way it pandered to my procrastination, simulating the rush of only having limited time to finish a task. It meant I had to prioritize and cut back on the perfectionism. While it brought out many good things in me, it also highlighted what I already knew was one of my worst traits, putting things off for later. Five out of seven nights I started my pomodoros after eight o’clock. When I finally got to them, after hours of bargaining with my partner about doing something else, more fun, I always thought to myself, “Why didn’t I start sooner? This isn’t that difficult really!” Another problem I noticed is how hard it was to get back to work after the 45-minute break you get for completing four pomodoros. After I’d finished, I felt like “you deserve to take the rest of the day off,” which was oftentimes the only option I had, as by the time I was finished it was 10 PM, and all I wanted to do was to have a snack, go to bed and watch Netflix. (In my notes, I wrote, “this is where willpower comes into play, something I don’t have.”)

While I might not have that much willpower, I did learn I had focus. I was able, even without the kitchen timer, to do my physics course work on a crowded, 4-hour bus ride, only rewarding myself with the 5-minute breaks. No matter where I worked this week, I always made sure not to reach for what I knew was one of my major time thieves, my phone. Instead, I drank water, stretched, and socialized. I also upheld the 5-minute breaks religiously, not staying in the living room for an extra five minutes to see who wins the mystery box challenge on Master Chef.

In conclusion, I think the technique can solve some of my problems, but not all of them. I need some way to make myself accountable for not starting sooner, and to stop my procrastinating. While the technique isn’t normally used this way, I thought it worked really well in a study setting. I found that it worked best if you had a specific task, like a maths or physics assignment, but it also worked for reading and revising. I have gotten a somewhat better grasp of how much time I need in order to finish a task, but I could focus more on this. Therefore I’m planning on continuing using this technique, while applying other methods as well to improve my overall study habits.

Looking forward to next week. Might make some changes to the site as well 🙂

-Benedicte

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Solving one problem, discovering a new(old) one

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