Eric shared an interesting article on productivity with me the other day. According to Tony Schwartz, president and founder of the Energy Project in New York, productivity isn’t about time, it is about energy.
According to Mr. Schwartz, human beings aren’t “designed to be linear but rather to pulse, to move between expenditure of energy and renewal of energy.” When we establish this rhythm, we are most productive and most sustaining.
Mr. Schwartz provides his own experience as an example. When writing a recent book, Schwartz worked in four 90 minute “sprints” each day. During these “sprints” he worked uninterrupted. Each “sprint” was followed by a 20-30 minute break which might include having a meal, exercising or reading. The break or disengagement did not mean reading email or surfing the web but doing something that was truly reenergizing or refueling.
Using this approach of uninterrupted work time followed by a period of refueling, Schwartz completed his book in 90 days, working half the number of hours each day that he had worked on a previous book. The previous book took him one full year to write.
In this article, Mr. Schwartz also discussed how positive emotions serve performance (whereas negative emotions bring everyone down) and how we’ve lost sight of absorbed focus; that is, doing one thing at a time versus multi-tasking.
I tried Mr. Schwartz’s recommendation this past week in the studio. I worked for 90 minutes at a time, mostly on specific production pieces, followed by breaks that usually took me out of the studio or moved my focus elsewhere.
For the most part I was more productive on those days where I used this approach. The hardest part was the refueling aspect; those segments usually lasted longer than his suggested 20-30 minute time frame.
Finding a rhythm in which to complete your work is a very interesting concept, especially when completing production tasks. It is very easy to get bored in short order. Focusing on one task for a set period of time does make finishing the task easier and time does go by quicker.
What do you think? How do you approach working efficiently in the studio?