Timing is everything, as they say, and your workflow is no different.
I read an article by Tony Schwartz a while ago that’s really changed how I’ve been approaching my work tasks. For the most part, I had been feeling really worn down. Moreover, it seemed like whenever I had a chance to catch-up on work or get ahead, I had a hard time doing it. It felt like the more time I had to dedicate to writing, web designing or anything else, was lost.
Why did it feel like the amount of work done in three hours was not twice as much as what I could accomplish in three?
According to Tony Schwartz, here’s why:
“The human body is hard-wired to pulse. To operate at our best, we need to renew our energy at 90-minute intervals — not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.”
Our world is wired for big four hour chucks–or more! For those running your own business, a part of a start-up or an under staffed non-profit, you may be working three four hour blocks a day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon and a few hours in the evening and wee hours of the morning (not to mention the weekend). This approach flies in the face of this 90-minute pulse.
The Result of 90-Minute Periods
Schwartz challenges this method and shares his own personal experience:
“For the first several books I wrote, I often sat at my desk for up to 10 or even 12 hours at a time. I never finished one in less than a year.
For my new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, I wrote without interruptions for three 90-minute periods, and took a break between each one. I had breakfast after the first session, went for a run after the second, and had lunch after the third.
I wrote no more than four and a half hours a day, and finished the book in less than 6 months. By limiting each writing cycle to 90 minutes and building in periods of renewal, I was able to focus far more intensely and get more done in far less time.”
Before you think it sounds too good to be true, think again.
My Personal Experience
I’ve been trying this for several weeks now and can tell you it works.
Here’s what I do:
- I’ve installed Thyme on my computer.
- I am mindful of my time.
- After 90-minutes I take a break.
Use whatever timer works best for you. I like mine running on my computer where I can watch it “ticking” at me. The impact has been twofold:
- I am more aware of how I spend my time and how long tasks take me.
- I feel more refreshed.
Knowing how long a task takes me is amazing. Moreover, I have found that Schwartz is right. If I don’t take a break after 90-minutes, my mind begins to bog down. Taking a break is like clearing that unused RAM on your computer.
I understand that those working in a traditional work environment may have a harder time with this. Do what you can, but for those who work on their own, you’ve got no excuse. I’ve found that going to the store, making lunch or other non-work activities is the best way to spend that time away from my work tasks. It is amazing what this does for your mind and how it increases both the quantity and quality of your output.
Trust me. It’s awesome.
Will you dedicate yourself to this for a few weeks?