Check out this super high-leverage Transformance Productivity tool called the “60/10/60/30”. What this means is…work for 60 minutes, take a short 10 minute break, work for another 60 minutes, and take a longer 30 minute break.
I initially got turned onto this tool from Eben Pagan’s Wake Up Productive Program, and have added a few special touches of our own along the way.
This simple, but high-leverage tool will support you in carving out the focus time needed to complete those pressing projects that keep getting pushed aside due to “urgent” client facing deliverable, or keep taking you longer to do than the time you budgeted due to interruptions messing with your productivity and concentration.
The 60/10/60/30 concept stems from productivity studies showing that humans perform better when:
- Focused on one thing at a time.
- Following a rhythm of working, short rest, working, longer rest – repeat.
Focused on One Thing at a Time.
There is a lot to unpack here…
1. Multitasking – Multitasking is the opposite of focusing on one thing at a time. Study after study has shown that multitasking negatively impacts productivity.
So to use this tool, pick one specific thing you want to accomplish during this specific 60/10/60/30 session, put all of your focus on that one thing – and do not get pulled into ANY other task.
2. Interruptions – When we are interrupted, our focus gets pulled off of what we are focusing on. Studies show that it takes 5-15 minutes to get into flow on what we are working on. Every time you get interrupted, your flow gets disrupted, and it can take another 5-15 minutes to get back into flow on the thing you are focusing on. If it takes you 10 minutes to get back into flow, and you get interrupted 3 times, you can waste 30 minutes of being productive. It adds up!
So, to use this tool, make sure you “protect” your space from interruptions. You can put a note on your door if you have an office. You can put a note on the back of your chair if you work in an open office setting. Spice it up a little by wearing a special headband or hat that is your indicator that you are not to be disturbed. One client chose to wear red headbands.
Work / Rest Rhythm.
1. Studies show that we perform better when we have a focused effort for a period of time, take a short break, have a period of focused work again, and then take a longer break. This all comes down to our ability to have sustained periods of focus, without going for so long without a break that our ability to focus starts declining. By working for a specified period of time, taking a short break to rest your mind, then working again for a specified period of time, and finally taking a longer break – you maximize your ability to stay focused on one thing… and therefore get the most productivity out of a block of time.
So to use this tool, start playing with working for a focused period of time, taking a short rest, working again for a focused period of time, and taking a longer rest.
2. Each of us has different durations of time (or a sweet spot) that we are able to be super focused. Focusing for too little time and we just barely get into our flow. Focusing for too much time and we start irrecoverably draining our internal batteries for the day – which negatively impacts our ability to be productive throughout the entire day.
To leverage this added information, play with different durations of focused time between 45 – 90 minutes until you find the amount of time you are able to stay focused on one task without pushing yourself too much.
Some Added Tips.
1. If your role involves completing projects that require focus, do at least one 60/10/60/30 per day.
2. Experiment to find your ideal work/rest/work/longer rest pattern. 60/10/60/30, or 90/10/60/30, or 45/5/45/20. Make this tool your own!
3. Play with what you do during your rest period. You can go for a walk. You can grab a healthy snack. You can water plants in your office… do things that allow your brain to ramp down. During the 60/10/60 – do not do things that will get your mind focusing on other things including reading the news, checking email or Slack, calling someone. Imagine that for the full 60/10/60 – you are creating a mini productivity bubble for yourself. During the last 30 minute rest period, it is less negatively impactful if you socialize during the 30 minute break. You can grab lunch with friends, get a workout in, etc.
4. Get good at turning off all of your distractions in under 90 seconds so you can jump into your 60/10/60/30 space quickly. Note that we emphasize ALL because even one distraction is enough to pull you out of flow. There are easy ways to turn off all of your notifications on your phone and computer. You can even selectively turn off certain notifications if needed. Explore the “Notifications” menu item in Settings on your phone and computer.
5. Use an actual timer and set your work AND rest times. You can use the timer on your phone, your watch, your computer – or purchase an inexpensive egg-timer. Using an actual timer instead of merely looking at a clock makes a HUGE difference. It becomes like a game you are playing – to do focused work until your work-period time goes of, and then to see how much you can rest your brain until your rest-period timer goes off.