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Want To Get More Done? Try Taking More Breaks

Pulse And Pause

Research shows that humans naturally move from full focus and energy to physiological fatigue every 90 minutes.

Many different methods have been developed around the idea of work and rest, including the 90-minute Technique, the Pomodoro Technique and the 52-17 Technique.

The important point isn’t the exact length of the sprint or the break, it’s to figure out what “pulse and pause” cycle works best for you

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Want To Get More Done? Try Taking More Breaks

Want To Get More Done? Try Taking More Breaks

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2017/02/06/want-to-get-more-done-try-taking-more-breaks/

forbes.com

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Key Ideas

Pulse And Pause

Research shows that humans naturally move from full focus and energy to physiological fatigue every 90 minutes.

Many different methods have been developed around the idea of work and rest, including the 90-minute Technique, the Pomodoro Technique and the 52-17 Technique.

The important point isn’t the exact length of the sprint or the break, it’s to figure out what “pulse and pause” cycle works best for you

Work To A Deadline

In addition to the science behind the productivity benefits of “pulse and pause”, many users of the technique feel the deadline approach provides added value.

Ian Cleary, founder of Razorsocial (an award-winning marketing technology blog): “When you have a deadline, you are more productive.”

Think Healthy

Regular exercise improves our metabolism and increases energy levels. But many feel that including exercise within the workday is asking for too much—and that’s why using a longer break for simple exercise is so effective. Simple exercise could include a 20-minute power walk or a bike ride of similar length.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is doing focused work in 25-minute sessions throughout the day. After each session, take a five-minute break. After completing four consecutive Pomodoros, take a 20 to 30-minute break.

The Problem with Pomodoro

Pomodoro is excellent for tackling tasks you don't feel like doing or jobs that require little thought.

However, other tasks, like writing or coding, require uninterrupted time. The problem with the Pomodoro method is that the timer is a consistent interruption that prevents you from getting into a state of flow.

The Flowtime Technique

It is a modified Pomodoro. And it solves Pomodoro's big problems.

  • It works by writing down one task you intend to work on during a focus session.
  • Then work until you start feeling tired or distracted, write down the end time, and take a break. A break can be anything from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.

Because you're not tied to a timer, you're more likely to find yourself in a flow state from time to time.

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The time-blocking method

Simply means planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks.

Doing this requires determining in advance what you will accomplish and exactl...

The most important task method (MIT)

Rather than writing out a massive to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then relentlessly focus on those tasks during the day.

Once you determine your 1-3 most important tasks, they are scheduled first in your day. You then make progress on essential items before you get bombarded by distractions. 

The Pomodoro Technique

Is all about working in short, massively productive, intensely focused bursts, and then giving yourself a brief break:

  • Choose a task
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer ends
  • Take a short break (around 5 minutes)
  • Every 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to ge...

Breaks and brain connections

Our brains have two modes:

  • focused mode, which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working) and 
  • diffuse mode, which is our more relaxed, daydreamy mode when we’re not thinking so hard.

The mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.

Breaks help us reevaluate our goals

When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. 

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The philosophy of working "smart"

... is to maximize your productivity when you are working so that you can get more stuff done in shorter periods of time.

By working smarter, you'll find yourself with more time in th...

Find the to-do list app that work for you

The best one for you depends entirely on your working style and personal preferences.

You can use a physical notebook around everywhere you go, but it's easier to use a to-do list app or tool that syncs across all your devices. That way, you can access your to-do items whenever and wherever you need to, whether you're at your desk, in a meeting, or on a business trip.

Prepare in advance

Write out your to-do list the day before:

  • You'll free your time to dive right into your to-do list in the morning - one of the most productive times of day.
  • It can help you spot obstacles ahead of time and prepare accordingly.
  • Knowing what you have going on well in advance could help you relax and sleep better the night before.

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Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life de..."

Brian Tracy
Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Describing mental fatigue
Describing mental fatigue

It is the feeling that your brain just won't function properly. People will describe it as brain fog. You can't concentrate, and simple tasks take too long. You find th...

Causes of mental fatigue

Contributing factors to mental fatigue are poor nutrition, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalances, or cognitive overload. Cognitive overload can take the following forms:

  • When you focus on a single task for an extended period of time.
  • When you spread your attention across too many things.
  • Worrying about tasks. It is as mentally taxing as doing the task.
Give your brain high-quality fuel

Your brain is fuelled with the same food as your muscles. What you eat has an enormous impact on your cognitive functioning.

  • Cut down on refined sugars as it decreases alertness. Aim for sustained energy levels throughout the day.
  • Plan your meals in advance. If you wait until you're hungry, you're already low on energy and willpower and will reach for a quick energy boost in the form of sugar.
  • Don't skip breakfast. Without it, you may likely crash in the middle of the morning. Eat more eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal to sustain your energy levels until lunch.
  • Snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon to give your body consistent fuel.
  • Stay hydrated with water. Mild hydration can negatively impact cognitive performance.
  • Listen to your body to figure out what makes you feel best. The same nutrition advice won't work for everyone.

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There is no perfect method for everyone

There is no "one size fits all schedule" for maximum productivity.

Because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time management and productivity, what works...

The Time Blocking Method

It involves planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. 

It’s important to block out both proactive blocks (when you focus on important tasks) and reactive blocks (when you allow time for requests and interruptions).

The Most Important Task Method (MIT)

Instead of writing a big to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then focus on those tasks during the day. 

You don’t do anything else until you’ve completed the three essential tasks.

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We Need Breaks
recent Apple ad celebrated entrepreneurs working so hard, they’re not able to see t...
Take A Break Every 52 Minutes

After analyzing 5.5 million daily records of how office workers are using their computer (based on what the user self-identified as “productive” work), they found that the top 10% of productive workers all worked an average of 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break.

Distract Yourself To Recharge Your Focus

Intense focus actually makes us less focused in the long run. Instead of thinking about the problem without stop, we need to create distractions that take our attention away from the task at hand so we can come back at it with a fresh mind.

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Evolution of time management in 5 stages
Evolution of time management in 5 stages
  1. The Clock-Slave: you are either begging for the clock to speed up or slow down.
  2. The Time Tracker: some find it an excellent way of ensuring they s...
The scarcity spiral

When you are time-pressured, you see time as a precious and scarce resource. This triggers a stress response, which can improve motivation in the short term, but often at the expense of morale in the long term. And an unhappy worker is a less productive worker. With lower productivity, there is even more time pressure to get things done.

And on goes the cycle.

The inner tyrant

When a time constraint is placed on you, it will play on repeat in your head: “Get to work!”. If a task takes longer than expected, thoughts like “What is taking so long?" might appear. And at the end of a chaotic day, you might find yourself thinking “You have done nothing today!”.

But you can overthrow this tyrant.

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Increase your focus by setting goals

Whenever you have issues focusing, try setting goals. The most important tip anybody could give you at this point is that the smaller the goal, the better the result. Therefore, try focusing on one...

Organize your tasks for a better focus

Organizing your tasks according to their difficulty level has only positive effects on your work. You will not only keep track of what has been done and what remains to be done, but you will also make sure that both difficult and easy tasks are being performed.

Scheduling improves your focus

Carefully scheduling your daily program enables you to reach a better focus. As you plan your day, you should take care of dividing your tasks according to the available time. This way you will know from the beginning of the day what and when needs to be done, which will reduce considerably the time to make decisions, which is one of the main distractions when thinking to start a new task. Furthermore, including breaks in your schedule is almost essential, as these allow you to  recharge your batteries and, therefore, work more efficiently afterwards.

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