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Get Er' Done: Homeschooling with the Pomodoro Technique

If you're like me, there is never enough time to get everything done; this can be especially true when homeschooling two kids who have different needs and short attention spans. Unfortunately, the truth is that neither my sons nor I have the mental stamina to homeschool for hours and hours a day. So while sitting down and bullying through a stack of assignments sounds like it's a logical way to get it done, for us, it isn't.

They fuss and get irritable, and everyone needs snacks entirely too often. The bathroom door is constantly opening and closing as the boys have an increased need for potty breaks. I'm even guilty of checking my phone or getting distracted as I remember something I forgot. It becomes unproductive and miserable.

Thank goodness we found the Pomodoro technique! It's helped us become more productive and honestly, faster and more constructive. It just might work for you too!

What is The Pomodoro Technique?

The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity strategy, plain and simple. It helps users focus and gets work done without burning out. Homeschooling can be a lot of work, but it can be manageable with the help of the Pomodoro Technique.

Named after its creator, Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that uses 25-minute intervals to achieve goals. Essentially, those who apply this method focus for 25-minutes on one task, take a 5-minute break, and then return to the task or start a new one for another 25-minutes. Then, after four 25-minute rotations, they get to take a more extended break of about 15 to 30-minutes.

Homeschoolers can better focus and get things done by breaking down tasks into shorter, more manageable chunks. Plus, the technique is easy to learn and use—just set a timer and work until it goes off. It's even easier if you use a visual timer. There are tons on YouTube. I'm partial to the ones that have lo-fi music attached (but the reason for that is a conversation for another day).

Why do I love Pomodoro?

I love that it keeps things in logical time order. Currently, my kids work through 4 cycles of Pomodoro; this is a perfect amount of time for my kids at their current age. I can organize my day because I know we're at what time we're "done." Those little 5-minute breaks are fantastic for me to run to the bathroom, grab a coffee, send a text, or set up for the next rotation. I also rarely have to deal with bored kids that need refocusing. That big ol' Pomodoro clock lets them know how much longer they need to stay focused on the task. I will work one-on-one with one kid during a rotation and then switch kids during the next cycle. While one kid words independently, the other gets personalized time with me. I work with both for some rotations or float between them.

Why do my kids love Pomodoro?

Think about it--25 minutes is around the length of most "kid shows." It's not too long so that their attention is lost, and it is not too short that you can't tell a story. Likewise, 25 minutes is just long enough for my kids to get something done and not long enough for their minds to start to wander. If it's a more extensive task that needs more time, they can go back to it in the next cycle (or the next day, 'cause that's how we roll). Those little 5-minute breaks allow them to get out the wiggles, burn energy, eat a snack, or do whatever they want. It is easier to get them to focus for 25-minutes 4 times than asking for 2 hours of their life. They like knowing how long a task is and when our official "school work period" concludes.

In the future, I'll get into specifics of how we apply Pomodoro, along with some example schedules and organizational aides. So make sure you signup for our newsletter so you won't miss them!


Images from and Flickr @IowaPolitics

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