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Why You Need To Unplug Every 90 Minutes

The Ultradian Rhythm

The Ultradian Rhythm

Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. 

This is the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that’s present in both our sleeping (the 90-minute cycles during which we progress through the five stages of sleep) and waking lives (as we move from higher to lower alertness).

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Why You Need To Unplug Every 90 Minutes

Why You Need To Unplug Every 90 Minutes

https://www.fastcompany.com/3013188/why-you-need-to-unplug-every-90-minutes

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Work Cycles

Humans have imagined themselves as machines, doing work linearly, and continuously.

We aren't machines, but organisms that work best cyclically, with intervals and rest periods.

The Ultradian Rhythm

Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. 

This is the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that’s present in both our sleeping (the 90-minute cycles during which we progress through the five stages of sleep) and waking lives (as we move from higher to lower alertness).

90 Minute Cycles

The 90-minute cycle works well for most of the demanding and creative work, as follows:

  • Morning practice is essential.
  • Three sessions a day on an average
  • Each session is for 90 minutes
  • A break is essential between the sessions.

Unplug after 90 Minutes

Unplugging or taking a break after 90 minutes is not opposing your work in any way, but is a part of your work.

Taking a break only enhances your work quality, so that you are at your best after returning.

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

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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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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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Pulse And Pause

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

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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.