How Can a Tomato Help You Study for Cisco Exams?

career success Dec 08, 2014

You’ve got a massive Cisco Press library; you’ve bookmarked key websites; and you’ve even subscribed to my blog :) Hopefully, you are super disciplined, and you’ve carved out dedicated chunks of time for study and labbing.

The bad news is, not everyone falls into that category. Some Cisco certification candidates have the resources, but they are so overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task of preparing for an exam, they put it off. They say, “I need to make time for that.” Have you ever been there? I have. So, what’s the answer?

There are lots of time management techniques out there, and a lot of experts who argue time is something that cannot be managed. I’ll not enter into that debate here. Instead, I want to give you a little trick I picked up somewhere in my reading.

This little study “hack” can help you overcome that initial inertia. In fact, I’m using it right now as I write this blog post. So what is it?

 It’s called the “Pomodoro Technique.”  Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, and this technique is based on the use of a kitchen timer that looks like a tomato. The basic idea is that you set the timer for a certain length of time (typically 25 minutes), and you get to work on a task. During that 25 minutes, you are totally focused. You don’t open Facebook, text, or aimlessly surf the web. You just put your head down and work, with the knowledge that this overachieving behavior your are demonstrating only has to last for 25 minutes.

Then, you’ll get a well-deserved break (typically 5 minutes). After your nice refreshing break, you do it again. After doing a few (about 4) of these 25 on, 5 off repetitions, then give yourself a longer break (about 30 minutes).

For me, I’m much more likely to get started on a task if I know it’s not going to last forever. With the promise of a scheduled break, I know I can go full out and give my all, for a brief time.

So, give yourself the gift of 25 minutes. By the way, I don’t use a mechanical tomato-shaped kitchen timer. I either use the built-in timer app on my tablet or the PomTimer app for my Mac.

You can watch a great video overview on this self-discipline technique HERE.

I hope you find yourself to be a more productive person by leveraging this cool technique. Please subscribe to my blog to be notified when future blog postings are available.

Kevin Wallace, CCIEx2 (R/S and Collaboration) #7945, CCSI 20061