Candidates often ask me how did I stay motivated and productive whilst preparing for the UCAT. I always recommend the pomodoro technique as it is something I still use today, breaking down revision into chunks has been proven to improve mental tenacity and reduce procrastination.
The Pomodoro method is a time management system that encourages you to work with the time you have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your work day into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes. This method of studying is a great ucat productivity hack, because it instils a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.
Additionally, the forced breaks help to cure that frazzled, burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day. It’s impossible to spend hours in front of your computer without even realizing it, as that ticking timer reminds you to get up and take a breather.
The concept of keeping such detailed track of your time can seem a little cumbersome. So, I recommend downloading a Pomodoro Timer to save time. It will make things much easier.
During my UCAT revision back in 2015 I used a 50/10 cycle where I did 50 minutes of UCAT study then rest for 10 minutes and repeat the cycle 3-4 times. I saw my overall productivity increase and didn’t experience any burnouts.
There are some helpful tools you can use to help you stay focus and reduce distraction during the 25 minute (or 50 minute) pomodoros as you prepare for the UCAT:
Here are my recommended tools and resources to stay focus:
- Todoist : A beautifully simple task-tracking app. Its free, syncs across all platforms and devices (and the web), has recurring task, multiple lists and is pretty. Get a clear overview of everything on your plate and never lose track of an important task. Get started
- Brain.fm: Brain.fm is an app that features music explicitly designed to help you focus on your work. It’s got a ton of research and engineering behind it, and as you use it, it’ll survey your performance and tailor what it plays to help you improve even more. Start Listening
- FocusMe – Distraction Blocker: It’s so easy to procrastinate when you have easy access to distracting websites and apps. FocusMe is a program that solves this problem by simply blocking them when you’re working. Among all the apps that do this, FocusMe works best for me because it works on ALL my devices – no sneaky instagramming on my phone. Block Distractions with FocusMe Another great distraction blocker is Freedom.com
- Tomighty – Pomodoro Technique: One of the most effective ways to immediately stop procrastinating is to use the Pomodoro Technique: set a timer for 25 minutes, commit to one task, and do nothing but that task until the timer dings. I do this almost every day, and I use Tomighty – a free app for Mac and PC – as my timer. Get Stuff Done
This article builds on the UCAT Study Guide. For more exclusive content visit the my UCAT Study page for more. Includes more advice as well as material to supplement the UCAT Study Guide.