Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remember To Take Breaks

My latest timer technique is working out really well. [Also, see earlier post.]

I press the timer (set for 10 minutes), and I work while it counts down. Whenever I am tempted to deviate from work, I look at the timer and say to myself for instance, "only 4:26 to go, keep working." I actually stay focused.

At the end of each 10 minute segment, I make a check on a piece of paper: four vertical lines and one diagonal line across to denote fifty minutes of effective and focused work. I draw a circle around the five lines for the last 10-minute segment to denote the completion of one full hour of work.

Sounds good, right?

The trouble is, the method is so effective that I am forgetting to take breaks. And thus, I find myself unable to work for longer than 2 hours, by the end of which I am so exhausted from the intense focus that I don't want to look at the work for the rest of the day.

Not good.

So now, instead of drawing a circle around my five lines to denote a full hour of work, I press the timer at the end of 50 minutes, and I take a 10-minute break.

We'll see if this makes any difference to me being able to focus effectively for at least 5 hours a day.


Heather said...

Sounds too complicated! What do you do on your "breaks"? What do yo do on your breaks that makes them so restful? Ten minutes doesn't sound like very much, either.

I would suggest that instead of Web surfing, or clicking on the TV, I would get a chore done around the house or go running, like you've done before. Make them 15-minutes breaks. If I am accomplishing something, like a chore or exercise, I feel better about the hours I spent etching another wrinkle in my brain.

I hope your method works for you!

Lonely Dissertator said...

Doesn't feel complicated to me (obviously!). Whatever helps to remove us from the intense focus will bring some freshness to the mind. I find that blogging is good, or getting something to eat, or stretching exercises, or playing with my kids, or even just shutting my eyes. A little bit of recreation (re-creation), whatever that might be--finishing a chore seems to fit for you. You sound like a flylady!

Also, I am not so rigid with my breaks being 10 minutes. I aim to do about 4 hours of focused reading/writing a day (i.e. my check marks from my timer will tell me how long I've done of focused work).