The Successful Self Reviewer

EnP Board Exam Review Tips: Fight Procrastination with the Pomodoro Technique

Named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer, this technique helps me start projects and activities even on a sluggish mood.

How can you stay motivated in self-review when you cannot even start!

The most common enemy of unsuccessful self-reviewers is procrastination.

Procrastination is often an issue of time management, accountability, and lack of motivation.

Self-accountability is often imaginary.
Self-accountability is often imaginary.

You know that time spent reading review materials is time well spent.

But, how much time are you really spending on undistracted learning?

Self-reviewers also battle accountability problems.

You may be too strict that you burn out before making much progress.

You may also be too forgiving, letting distractions be excuses because “no one is watching.“

You may also be overwhelmed by the mountain of review materials that must be read, understood, and remembered.

The seemingly insurmountable volume of review materials depletes your mental energy before self-review sessions begin.

How can you stay motivated when you cannot even start!

Distractions hold you back from successful review sessions.
Distractions hold you back from successful review sessions.

I too have recurring issues with procrastination.

When I was studying for the Environmental Planning Board Exam, I chose to self-review because I lacked money and time for joining organized coaching sessions.

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Pass the Environmental Planning Board Exam!

I was a University Professor with full-time teaching and administrative responsibilities, so I was only able to review after working hours.

I also limited the number of people I told about taking the exam so I had few accountability people.

But I won! I passed the 2018 Environmental Planning Board Exam through self-review!

Granted, I was teaching a land use planning course, but the coverage of the Board Exam was broad!

Until today, though, procrastination still haunts my productivity.

It all starts with one step, they say!

Use Pomodoros!

The Pomodoro technique is a focus-centered, low-barrier-of-entry system that jumpstarts my tasks every time!  

I promise! The Pomodoro technique will also help jumpstart your self-review sessions.

Named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro technique has helped me start projects and activities even on a sluggish mood.

The original Pomodoro technique has six steps:

  1. Decide on the task to be done.
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes.
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings.
  4. Take a 5-minute break.
  5. Repeat Steps 1 to 4 for three more times
  6. Take  15 minute break
The Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro technique. MPN Team.

I started using Pomodoros while completing my Master’s thesis, using my phone as a timer.

The Pomodoro technique is available on various platforms and apps.

There are simple browser Pomodoro timers, full downloadable Pomodoro apps and integrations with time-tracking software.

At present, I use an integrated Clockify-Google Calendar-Google Keep system that tracks my self-review time FOR FREE!

The system also ensures I take productivity breaks every 25 minutes of focused work.

Let me briefly describe how Pomodoros can jumpstart you self-review!

The Pomodoro technique amplifies motivation

A step starts with one foot!

Activities are easier to complete when you break them down into smaller tasks.

The Pomodoro technique presents a low-barrier strategy to start your self-review sessions.

dog jumping barrier
Low barriers = Higher motivation. Pixabay.

Which is easier to commit to: a 25-minute meeting or a 1-hour meeting?

  • Choose a page or file to review.
  • Set the Pomodoro timer.
  • Start learning…Ting!
  • You just completed a Pomodoro!

Now, you decide: would you like to continue?

In initial sessions, you may only do one Pomodoro session a day. That’s better than zero!

As you build consistency through Pomodoros, your affinity for the “tomato” will increase!

The Pomodoro system also has “productive breaks.”

Your 5-minute breaks will give you opportunities for self-care.

Your 15-minute long break is a great reward for completing four 25-minute focus sessions.  

You can also gamify Pomodoro sessions into a rewards system.

I personally limited my daily review sessions to four Pomodoros. Upon completing 4 Poms, I am good for that review session with no guilt!

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The Pomodoro technique supports time management

What can you review in 25 minutes? You will find out!

One crucial principle to maximize the Pomodoro technique is the use of actionable tasks.

Simply put, actionable tasks are detailed description of tasks that are clearly stated.

To make actionable tasks in your review sessions, you will assign topics, chapters, or even pages into 25-minute Pomodoro sessions.

It is hard to finish a whole pizza without slicing it into pieces!

Using Pomodoros, you can create a clear review plan and know how much material you can realistically cover in a day with your energy levels.

With this information, you can continue to adjust the amount of materials you schedule for review in review sessions.

Using Pomodoros, you can also prioritize subject areas for which you have not spent much time.

You can also identify how many Pomodoros is a successful self-review session by knowing how much of a topic you covered in 25 minutes.

The Pomodoro technique promotes self-accountability

The Pomodoro timer extends a “focus-on-this-for-25-minutes” contract  with the self-reviewer.

After 25 minutes of focus, you get 5 minutes of rest!

A simple self-accountability and “respect the tomato” relationship.

Respect the tomato!

You can make it a personal challenge to focus during the 25-minute Pomodoro sessions.

You can also learn to respect your 25 minutes because of the 5 minute of break that comes after.

You can also set reward activities for each 5-minute and 15-minute break to gamify your self-review sessions!

Social Pomodoro buddies are also available for additional accountability. I have yet to try out the feature but it seems exciting!

Start your first Pomodoro now!

Set the timer, wait for the bell, decide to continue!

Pomodoros are low commitment, focus intervals that will excite your self-review sessions!

I also recommend it for making your review sessions stress-free.

Using it with a review plan template can multiply the organization and consistency of your successful self-review sessions!

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