Posted on 18/9/06 by Felix Geisendörfer
For those of you who have followed this site in the past days you might have noticed that I was writing a lot of posts on here recently. This of course has something to do with my 10 Days of Free Dessert! series, but on saturday and sunday both, I wrote 3 desserts even so the bet just says I got to write 1 / day.
In the past 3-4 weeks, I've started to work hard on myself. I've been trying to get up at 5am every day and even so I still oversleep at least once a week and feel a little sleepy when getting up, it has given me a serious increase in productivity. Together with that I've pretty much given up drinking coffee especially in the morning. I still drink a cup in the afternoon from time to time, but gone are the days of waking up by the brute force of my Geeky 16 ounce coffee cup.
Even so all of this has really been benifital it wasn't until last saturday that I discovered a real killer strategy for increasing my productivity. It was a post on lifehacker.com, and it suggested to Work in 48 minute increments. So you would always work for 48 minutes on a certain task while making it your main priority to fight distraction. After that you take a 12 minutes break before you start to work again. This entire pattern has really pushed my productivity way up. On the past weekend when I started to apply it, I wrote 6 good sized posts on here, refactored (almost rewritten) the complete application I work on right now to increase code quality, did all my homework (I never do that ... ^^), met with friends and also completed a ton of minor tasks. Especially the first two items are pretty big and normally would have taken me 4-6 days instead of two. Now a lot of people who commented it negativley on it, but for me this just seems to work like a charm, so in case you are interested in trying it out as well, here are some advices I would like to give you:
- Use a coundown timer to keep track of the 48 minutes, otherwise you'll get of path easily. I personally love using my watch for it, but maybe you want to get yourself a big countdown timer instead.
- In the 48 minutes of work, *really* blend out all distractions. No email checking, no news reading, no instant messaging, no banging your head against the monitor. Force yourself to stay on task - you know after 48 minutes you'll definitly get a break.
- If you feel the urge to go to the toilet please go, I don't want to be responsible for any accidents ; ).
- If you get distracted by the outside world like a phone call or things like this, stop the timer. If you feel like you'll have some control over how long the distraction will be, remember where you stopped the clock and set it to the new value you try to stay with. After you are done, get right back on task.
- You'll maybe notice that this technic can lead to serious pressure of trying to finish the task in the given time, maybe even setting the timer back to get more time. Don't do that, if the task can't be done in 48 minutes take a break and start in 12 minutes again. This will make sure you don't exhaust yourself too badly for the hours to come.
- If you have to eat something or such, take a bigger break. Maybe 30, maybe 40 minutes. However, set the timer for this time as well to make sure you're not using it as an excuse for goofing of after a while.
Ok, if you wonder *why* 48 minutes: I don't know. It probably works just as well with any other combination. I'll probably experiment with that a little bit in the future.
PS: Here is a similar post, but this strategy has a good list of people who will especially benifit from this technic (like me).
--Felix Geisendörfer aka the_undefined
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