Using a Tomato to Avoid Putting Things Off – Learning How To Learn for Youth by ASU #2

Using a Tomato to Avoid Putting Things Off – Learning How To Learn for Youth by ASU #2

November 19, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Greg: Back in the 1800s, murderers sometimes
used a chemical called arsenic. Arsenic can kill a person in one day—and
it’s not a very pleasant way to go. One day in 1875 two men ate a large amount
of arsenic in front of an audience. The men should have died! But to everyone’s surprise, the men came back
the next day, seemingly as healthy as can be. How could it have happened? How can something so harmful appear to do
no damage? Barbara: We’ll get to the answer soon. Meanwhile, I’m going to show you how a tomato
can help you learn better. Sound nutty? Stay with us! In this video, we’re going to talk about
an idea called procrastination. Procrastination means putting things off until
later. Like when you know you have a big test on
Friday, but you procrastinate all week and don’t study for it until Thursday night. Terry: Why do you procrastinate? When I procrastinate it feels like something
is hanging over my head. It’s actually in my head. When something really bad happens to you,
a part of your brain called the insular cortex fires up. Tucked away, under your skull around here
(point), the insula is activated when you’re feeling pain and when you’re emotionally
hurting. The insula is closely connected to your body—that’s
why it’s a gut feeling. Guess what? The insula also fires up when you’re just
thinking about something you don’t want to do. But it happily settles down once you get to
work on the task you were avoiding. And you will feel a lot better, as your insula
gives up its grip on you. Greg: So, one of the best tips to becoming
a great learner is to just get going. Don’t put your work off. You’re thinking, “But how can I settle
down and just get working?” The solution…….yes, it’s a tomato! 5
Barbara: In the 1980s, Italian Francesco Cirillo devised the Pomodoro Technique to help procrastinators. Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. Cirillo developed a tomato-shaped timer, like
this one. Cirillo’s technique is very simple—all
it needs is a timer. A tomato-shaped timer like Cirillo’s is
really nice, but any timer will do. I often use a digital timer that I’ve downloaded
to my computer. There are also Pomodoro apps that people like
to use—the “Forest” app is especially popular. Here’s how to do a “Pomodoro”:
1. First, as much as you can, shut off all distractions—the
television, your phone, your little brother. You want to be able to focus as intently as
you can without being interrupted. 2. Set your Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes. 3. Start working—focus as intently as you can. 25 minutes of focus is doable! 4. Greg: Here comes the best—and most important—part. When the 25 minutes is done, reward yourself. How? You can listen to your favorite song—even
move to it! Or play a video game. Maybe hug your dog. Or talk with friends. Five or ten minutes is a good amount of time
for a reward—many people find it helpful to set a timer for their reward period. 5. Here comes the best—and most important—part. When the 25 minutes is done, reward yourself. How? You can listen to your favorite music! Or play a video game. Maybe hug your pet. Or talk with friends. Get up and move around. Five or ten minutes is a good amount of time
for a reward—many people find it helpful to set a timer for their reward period. Barbara: The reward is the most important
part of the whole Pomodoro process. Why? It gives your diffuse mode a chance to work
on what you are learning. Remember, you don’t just learn when you
are focusing—you learn through a combination of focusing and relaxing. Even when your brain is relaxing, it’s still
working quietly, figuring things out. Barbara: When you are focusing while you’re
doing a Pomodoro, your thoughts can wander off—you lose focus. That’s perfectly normal. All you have to do is bring your thoughts
back as soon as you catch them wandering off. Greg: Okay, now it’s time to go back to
the arsenic-eaters. Are you wondering how they could eat arsenic
and not die? And anyway, what does eating poison have to
do with procrastination? The arsenic-eaters started with tiny amounts
of poison and gradually began eating more and more each day. They built up an immunity. They thought everything was fine because they
didn’t feel sick. But they were gradually poisoning themselves. Gradually increasing amounts of arsenic won’t
kill you. But over time, arsenic does serious damage. It damages your internal organs and causes
cancer. Don’t eat arsenic! How can this be like procrastination? Barbara: Here’s how. Putting your studies off for a little while
longer doesn’t seem like it will hurt anything. But as you get used to procrastinating, it
makes learning harder. You’ll get stressed because you have less
time to learn. You can become a less effective student. Remember, you can make short periods of focused
concentration into a healthy habit. So learn to love the Pomodoro app on your
phone. Or that plastic tomato! Next, we’re going to see how one very shy
ten-year-old girl changed her brain. Barbara: I’m Barbara Oakley
Greg: I’m Greg Hammons Terry: and I’m Terry Sejnowski
Barbara: we, and Arizona State University, wish you happy learning!