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The HIIT Work Program

We don’t need to be personal development gurus to understand that busyness is not equivalent to productivity.  If you’ve worked a corporate job then you’re familiar with the (oh-so-many) days when you spend your whole time busy only to discover you didn’t get much done. A famous example of time-draining shallow tasks as described in Cal Newport’s Deep Work book include, “sending and receiving email messages like human network routers.”

I personally believe the typical workday needs some adjustment. This could be done using a work system similar to the High-Intensity Interval Training fitness workout program. According to this article; “HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods.”

Similarly, you focus on work for a set amount of time, but then take a break after that. The most famous application of this is by using the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. However, for activities that have you entering a state of flow, I personally think it’s quite impractical to stop after 25 minutes, so you can go for 1.5 hours followed by a good 45 minutes or 1 hour break.

Which explains why you could end up having 12–15 hour days; there are way too many breaks in the middle of the day. The main ideas to implement are as follows;

– When you’re working, you’re totally focused on work. That means switching off your phone completely or putting it on silent mode.

– When you’re on a break, you’re totally on a break.

A HIIT schedule could work like this;

8–10 am; work (2 hours)

10–10.30; break (1/2 hour)

10.30–12; work (1.5 hours)

12–13; break (1 hour)

13–15; work (2 hours)

15–16.30; break (1 and 1/2)

16.30–19; work (2.5 hours)

Okay, so we end up with a longer workday which is inconvenient if you have family and a long commute (though if you really think about it, you might actually miss the night rush hour and spend less time on the road). But the breaks also get longer as the day proceeds. So you actually get to do stuff during your breaks like exercise or walk around the block. That way you return more refreshed because let’s admit it, what happens between 15 and 16.30 pm of every single work day?

Most people get into the afternoon slump.

If you google, “How to beat the afternoon slump?” you end up with 412,000 results. That time is a period of supreme inefficiency where people hang around the water cooler gossiping and counting down the time to get home.

So with technology making communication easier, maybe we could rethink the typical workday…

What are your thoughts on the topic? Tweet me @ahechoes to let me know.

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Published inCareerPersonal DevelopmentProductivity