Welcome to the fourth and final part of this miniseries about how to improve your learning. We will end the series with discussing time and how to learn in sprints to optimize the time you spent on learning. Humans only have a certain amount of concentration they can deliver at a time. After a certain length of time, our minds drift off and we get distracted or at least have a harder time focusing. So to make the time you spent on learning more efficient it can help to learn in sprints, which means to shorten the time and make breaks in between.
The Pomodoro Technique
The infamous pomodoro technique is a popular way to structure the time you spend on learning with doing short sprints. The technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo and works in the following way:
- You write down what you want to achieve during the time of learning
- You learn for 25 minutes
- You take a 5 minutes break
- You complete this cycle 4 times and then take a longer break (10-20 minutes)
For those of you that are able to focus for a longer time, you can also split the time like this: 50 minutes of sprint learning and 10 minutes break, with a 20-30 minutes break after 4 cycles.
Here is a video explaining the pomodoro technique:
You can use this technique for any kind of task that requires focus and that you want to do in a sprint. For example learning, studying, reading, working, etc. The great thing about this method is that you know when you are allowed to be distracted. It’s a very natural need to lose focus and do something else. The issue is when we spend too much time being unfocused and procrastinating. With the pomodoro technique, you know that you won’t spent more than 5 minutes on it at a time, and you know when to do it.
You can use this video to time your pomodoro learning session:
Changing Your Learning Environment
Another way to do sprints is to set a day aside for learning and do it somewhere different than where you usually learn. Going to another place often brings us into a different kind of flow. We are taken out of our comfort zone and taken away from our usual distractions. Going to a café to learn, to a public library, or any other place that isn’t home improves our ability to focus. It often inspires us and motivates us. Our perceived reality is one of focus and more seriousness, and that influences how well we work. Even if you spend a whole day at a public library, you are likely to feel a lot more inspired than if you work for half a day at home. I wrote this article at a café, and the words just flew out of me. I was in such a flow.
You can even get a similar effect if you simply change the clothes. If you’re at home, it might be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, but changing into proper clothes can actually help you feel more productive and work more focused.
Finally, involving people in your sprints can also increase your productivity. Having people around you who are also working hard on learning something, will motivate you to work hard too. There is a saying that you are the average of the people you surround yourself with. That’s why having a peer group (see part three in this series) can work magic on your productivity. The good thing about a group is also that you can cheer each other up, discuss questions that arise during your learning process, and that you can help keep each other committed to staying focused.
That was the last of my tips for improving your learning journey. Do you have any other ways of learning that work well for you? Share them with us and the community so we can learn from each other and improve together! We would be happy if you write a blog post with your learning tips! Just send it to .