The spirit of 66(.6)

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT to be applied to the workplace. Spending 20 minutes p/h on Facebook may get you in trouble…unless you work at Facebook?

For years I have struggled to sit at home for long periods of time to study, write essays and get other small items done. A few hours in a bloc sitting can feel never ending. It’s also likely that if you’re using a computer or digital device to read or write that you have plenty of potential distractions. While I would advise staying away from random Google searches and social media if you’re working on an essay, there is a way to indulge both…

Rather than switch between a long slog of work followed by random intervals of phone checking, you can structure your chaos.

  • 20 minutes of pure focus on your task. Even if the quality of what you write isn’t so great, just get something down and out of your head. It’s easier to improve 200 average words than 0 words. If your task is to read or even household cleaning, 20 minutes of pure focus on one single task will produce a lot more than you realise.
  • 10 minutes of whatever you want. You want to check Facebook or send some texts then do it. This is 10 minutes of guilt-free time.

This division of 66.6% of your time on pure focus followed by 33.3% of free time ensures two things:

  1. For every 1 hour – you have produced 40 minutes of work. Multiply this over the course of a few hours on a Saturday and you will have produced a large amount of work.
  2. The inclusion of ‘free time’ ensures you don’t feel distracted by what you’re “missing out on.” You have 10 minutes to relax from your task before going straight back to it.

The time limits are strict so you have to stick to it. If you get a text in the 20 minute period, you have to wait until the 20 minutes are up before you pick that phone up. What I’ve found by using this for essays is that I don’t feel like I’m doing a lot. It doesn’t feel like hard work. What I’ve also noticed is that often, if you’re in a state of flow, you might even overrun the 20 minute window (which we’ll allow). Sometimes, you’ll get ideas or thoughts in the 10 minute free window. These may be ideas you wouldn’t get if you were still typing. Try it. We all have our own “cheats” to get stuff done and this is just one that helps me when writing essays.

I’ll talk in further detail about some other methods in the future. If you have any of your own that you’d like to share, then feel free to comment…just do it in that 10 minute window.