The Pomodoro Technique

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In Learning How to Learn, Dr. Barbara Oakley, Terrence Sejnowski, and Alister McConville tell us:

“When you even just think about something you don’t like, it activates a pain center of the brain called the insular cortex. This can lead to procrastination. But here’s what’s interesting. Once you get started on the task you didn’t want to do, the pain goes away after about twenty minutes. The insular cortex calms down when you start the task you were avoiding… So this is my number one top tip to become a good learner. Just get going. Don’t put work off until later.”

To calm your insular cortex. Just get started. Again and again and again.

Barbara Oakley also tells us: the number one technique to counter procrastination is the Pomodoro Technique. Shut off distractions. Set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus intently for those 25 minutes. Reward yourself when the timer goes off by celebrating. “That’s like me!” Then recover with an energizing rest such as walking, meditating, journaling, breathing, exercising, or stretching.

In Choose The Life You Want, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar tells us:

“Fortunately, the research into procrastination has also identified practical ways that can help overcome the tendency to procrastinate. The single most important technique is called ‘the five-minute takeoff.’ It consists, simply, of starting to do the thing you have been putting off, no matter how little you feel like doing it. Procrastinators often believe that to do something one has to truly want to do it—to be in the right mood, to feel inspired. This is not the case. Usually, to get the job done, it is enough merely to begin doing it—the initial action kick-starts the process and often brings about more action.”

Is there anything you have been procrastinating on? Bust out a timer, make 25 minutes of progress, and celebrate your tiny win.

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