Avoid Brain Burnout: The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro Timer (Google image)

During Middle School/High School, I never seemed to struggle with time management and getting my work done. I was always quick to finish my homework before anything else and my grades greatly reflected that. I attest my good work ethic back then, mainly to my parents for constantly hovering over my shoulder and keeping me accountable for my work. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. The “No TV until homework is done.”, “No computer until you finish your assignment.”, even the, “If you get an A I’ll give you $20.”, etc. It was all very incentivizing but slightly annoying at the moment because sometimes I just didn’t want to do work. But being at home, that wasn’t going to be an option forever…

Once I got to University, my time management skills started to wain and were definitely mirrored in the lack of accountability I had with my assignments. I gave myself way too much slack. In fact, they warned us it would be like this and I fell for it. I always lost track of my studying and ended up feeling like any “break” I took from my books was undeserved. It was very difficult to keep myself liable and know how much work I had gotten done so I can see progress with this mentality. Needless to say, those moments in high school that I called annoying were no doubt a dire necessity for me during those times. But of course, being in college, time management is part of the experience and one of the most important skills to build while on my own. So it was my job to figure out how to help myself.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of my favorite cousins that she told me about how she was having similar focus issues. Where, she wasn’t able to keep track of how much time she spent studying versus relaxing. So she recommended this technique that she said has helped her tremendously with her studying. It was The Pomodoro Technique. To help myself manage my time better and not feel so burnt out when I study, I implemented this technique as soon as I could.

The Pomodoro Technique (Google image)

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that uses a timer to break work down into intervals. These intervals are called “pomodoros” and are usually 25 minutes long, followed by a short break, which is around 3–5 minutes. A short break is the time used to completely remove yourself from your work and rest your brain. Then, after that short break, reset your pomodoro until the next short break. After 4 or more pomodoros, meaning, you have worked for at least an hour, you can take a long break, which would be around 15–30 minutes long. Finally, after your long break, you being from pomodoro # 1 and repeat the cycle.

So for me, the way I implemented this technique was by using an app called Focus Keeper. In the app I gave myself a daily focus goal of 6 hours, where my pomodoros were split into three, 30 minute intervals with 10 minute short breaks, followed by an hour long, long break, then back to the forth pomodoro, etc. Since using this technique, I not only feel more focused when I’m working but when I’m not, I don’t feel so lazy or like I should be getting more work done. I give myself a good 6 hours total to stay focused everyday.

Now that I had that down on my phone, as an aspiring Data Scientist, I have to see if I can do the same thing in Python. And of course, I can. To a very simple degree but still functional. Let’s do it!

First, I import the modules time and winsound. These modules will allow me to implements a countdown and follow it with a sound, respectively.

import

Next, we define our Pomodoro function and call it pom_tech, for “pomodoro_technique”.

define function

After the function has been defined, we can iterate a loop through it so we have our timer. For this, I used a while-loop.

create while loop

From the clips above, you can see that this loop can also be automated to where you do not have to manually input your preferred study or break time, like the fancy apps do. But from personal experience, I’ve found that I am more accounted for my work when I can manually see and enter my pomodoro times. That way, if my break ends up being longer than I expected, my timer will not continue to count down and log a work session that has not occurred.

This is what I would input for my first focus session:

And this is how it would be outputted (using example seconds).

Note: For each question, you must enter an input because as mentioned before, this is not a continuous loop.

So now that I have my pomodoro set up in Jupyter, I can use it instead of my phone. But as you can see, this is a very very simple function. There are countless other ways to customize it so it is more seamless and/or quicker. But either way, this basic timer does what I would like it to do, in that it keeps me from feeling like I’m cramming too much information into my head at one time.

Breaks are very important in any study routine and once you know how to keep from overcrowding your brain with a lot of information at one time, you can take it in, digest it during short breaks, and return to it a little more clear headed and ready to absorb additional information and study materials.

Happy Studying!

Resources

Small data scientist in-training looking to make an impression