Psst. Come closer. I want to tell you a secret. Can you hear me now? Here it is:
Unless you are a computer, multi-tasking isn’t working for you. It’s not improving your performance. It’s not helping you accomplish your goals. It’s not helping you get through the day. In fact, it’s degrading your performance, making it harder for you to accomplish your goals, and sapping your energy.
If you are willing to take this on faith for just a few days, I have an experiment I want you try.
1) Get a kitchen timer or a software timer. I use xNote Stopwatch Timer on my Windows desktop.
2) Next time you sit down to work, close your email client, turn off your phone, shut down Twitter, and get rid of all distractions. Now set your timer to 33 minutes and 33 seconds.
3) Now work. If your mind is not producing anything, that’s okay. Just sit there. You can either just sit there or work. You can NOT check your web stats, check your affiliate income, check your email or your voice mail. Eventually your mind will get into the groove, your creative juices will begin to flow, and the work will start.
4) When the timer rings, STOP! Do not type another word, click another link, or have another thought. Just stop right in the middle of whatever you were doing. It’s break time!
5) You can set your timer for 5 minutes if you like, but I usually just wing this part. During your five minute break, you can check your email, refill your coffee, or take a walk around the house/garden/office. You can stretch your arms, check your web stats, or file a piece of mail. But do not WORK!
6) Now, when your five or ten-minute break is over, reset your timer for thirty-three minutes and thirty-three seconds and begin working again. At first it might take you a bit of time to remember where you left off. With practice, however, this will become faster and you’ll be able to jump right back where you left off.
I learned this trick from Colin Theriot, who learned it from copywriter extraordinaire Eugene Schwartz. You can Google “Schwartz 33 minutes 33 seconds” and you’ll find a few others who have discovered this same secret.
It is also similar to techniques taught by by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their book The Power of Full Engagement, which I recently read and highly recommend.
To be honest, I didn’t actually read it. I listened to the audio version from Audible.
If you try this, please, please, please let me know your results by posting a comment here or privately at Reply to Barbara. If yours are anything like mine, you’ll soon be deciding how YOU want to spend your extra three hours a day!
Barbara Feldman says
I check my email during my breaks! In addition to getting up and walking around the patio (or grabbing a refill on my coffee, etc.)
Good for you on keeping your inbox in check. I’m still struggling with that one.
Shawn Collins says
When do you check your email if this process repeats throughout the day?
I got agitated if I cannot keep my inbox trim, and want to be able to service any queries ASAP.