Many students think it is a good idea to set a timer during their studying to dictate or determine when they take a break. However, it is not a good idea and may harm your studying.
The Pomodoro Technique, a time management technique, has become very popular among students to improve their productivity. This technique teaches students to alternate between reading and resting/taking breaks. Students who use this technique tend to set a timer to take breaks while studying to fulfill the Pomodoro requirement. For instance, they set a timer for 30 minutes to read, and once the timer counts down to zero, they take a 10 minutes break before reading for another 30 minutes.
While the Pomodoro technique is an effective technique on its own, the use of a timer while studying or using this technique is counterproductive and maybe ruining the studies of many students.
A better way to improve your study, especially when using the Pomodoro technique, is to set a stopwatch instead of a timer. While a timer counts down, a stopwatch counts up. This slight difference between a timer and stopwatch can make a world of difference to your studies.
Why you should use a stopwatch instead
When you use a stopwatch and the number counts up, each increase in time on the clock stands for pure, unadulterated productivity. One way to ensure this is to pause the watch whenever you feel distracted, tired, or notice that your productivity level has dropped, and then take a break. So, your breaks only come when your productivity levels drop, and you can use the break to refresh yourself before going again. This is what the Pomodoro technique is all about. You will be surprised that you will be much more productive and get more work done using a stopwatch than a timer.
Many would argue that it is counterproductive to use the stopwatch rather than the timer because you do not have a specific or set amount of time to work. Since you can take breaks whenever you feel like you need one, the break can come every two minutes. As valid as this argument sounds, it’ll surprise you that it doesn’t work this way.
Seeing a stopwatch counting up gives the direct opposite mentality towards productivity than a timer counting down does. This is because when you are using a timer, you tend to anticipate the countdown to zero so that you can take a break. You are more particular about the break, and you are distracted by it already. However, for a stopwatch, every count-up represents your work and productivity. So, you would be looking to set a high score instead of anticipating a break. You are looking towards high numbers, and increased numbers stand for higher work done and increased productivity.
Another disadvantage of timers is that productivity is forced. For example, when you set a timer for 20 minutes, it feels like you are forced to be productive for 20 minutes. On the other hand, using a stopwatch and having the time count up encourages you to be more effective. This will ensure that you have a better attitude to your studying, you will be more intentional about when to take breaks, and you will be more productive and do more in less time.
As a student, I used timers during my studies. Now I know better. It is more effective and productive to use a stopwatch and rest when you’re tired. Thankfully, you are learning it earlier than I did so that you can be more productive.
Jake S. Platt is 31. He has a master’s degree in marketing and currently started his way as a content writer for Nerdy Writers. He wrote his first story at age 15, now he brings his decades of experience to inspire people to explore the world.