We all have so much to get done and never seem to have enough time. Here’s a process that can treble your effectiveness.
It’s been said that the average worker manages just 1 hour 20 minutes concentrated effective time per day. Email, social media, socialising with colleagues etc. do have their place. However, if you break from a task it can take 20 minutes for your brain to “fully get back into the task in hand.” We can all be massively more effective. It’s been proven that our brains can only concentrate on something for a limited amount of time. It’s supposed to be a maximum of 45 minutes but I can’t manage that (I’m too easily distracted). So I work with a 35 minute limit. So, get out your “To Do List” and let’s crack on.
- CHOOSE A TASK YOU WANT TO GET DONE (How you choose this is worthy of another post):
Something big, something small, something you’ve been putting off for a ages: it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s something that deserves your full, undivided attention.
- SET A COUNTDOWN TIMER FOR 35 MINUTES (we use http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/). You can do it on your Smartphone if you prefer:
Put a “do not disturb” on your door. Turn off social media, put your phone on silent (and the other side of the room). Promise yourself: “I will spend 35 minutes on this task and I will not interrupt myself. You can do it! After all, it’s just 35 minutes. The brain has been proven to work much better when it knows it is under time pressure. Just think back to school or College. Didn’t you work better when the deadline was the next day? Did you put it off until you didn’t have a choice? This is recreating that situation in your brain.
- WORK ON THE TASK UNTIL THE TIMER RINGS
Immerse yourself in the task for the next 35 minutes. If you suddenly realize you have something else you need to do, write the task down (in as few words as possible) on a sheet of paper (then back to your task).
- WHEN THE TIMER RINGS, PUT A MARK WHERE YOU ARE UP TO ON THAT TASK
Congratulations! You’ve spent an entire, interruption-less 35 minutes on your task.
- TAKE A SHORT BREAK (10 minutes max)
Breathe, stretch, grab a cup of coffee (water, cold or hot is even better), go for a short walk or do something else relaxing (not work-related). Your brain will thank you later. By the way the vast majority of people in the Western World are enormously dehydrated (this has a negative effect on your brain functioning). So make sure you drink lots of water.
- EVERY 4 X 35 MINUTES, TAKE A LONGER BREAK
Once you’ve completed 4 X 35 Minutes, take a longer break. 20 or 30 minutes is perfect. Your brain will use this time to assimilate new information and rest before the next round of 35 Minutes. You’ll see that you have just worked for 2 hours 20 minutes in 3 hours. A whole hour more than the average worker does in a day!
Do it again in the afternoon and you’ll be amazed at how much you have done. 300% more effective than the Average of 1 hour 20 minutes/day – you’ve managed 4 hours! You can ramp this up even more by making sure you’re “To Do List” is optimised to include your most valuable tasks.
Make sure that you schedule in looking at email as one of your tasks on your “To Do List” and deal with what you can within the 35 minutes (or put on your “To Do List” if important and can’t be dealt with immediately). DO NOT LOOK AT EMAIL at other times. Email is generally things that other people want you to do not necessarily what is best for you to do.
CONGRATULATIONS!! You are an EFFECTIVE TIME WARRIOR