Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

The 90 minute “sprint”

3 Comments

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?

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3 thoughts on “The 90 minute “sprint”

  1. Interesting how in several places very recently it seems that time, lack of it, or how we use or perceive it seems to be on many peoples minds.

    I agree that multitasking has become a standard, and find it sad. While it’s helpful sometimes (and necessary as a Mom or Dad!), being able to give one’s total attention to -anything- is a rare and worthy activity.

    As someone who has no concept of time passing, I’d have to have outside reminders to stop the original ‘sprint’, then again when to end the break and get back to the sprint! Interesting concept, though. I’ll have to give it a try.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Amy ! I know I function much better when I concentrate intensively on one thing at a time than if I try to do a lot of things at once. With that in mind, I have been claying the last 2 days and have done no housework or cooking. Amazing how much more creative I am when am not imagining Martha Stewart looking over my shoulder, LOL !!!

  3. Hi Debbie & Dora,

    I wonder if we’re more aware of discussions about time because we are in the fall season, a time when we tend to look inward and reflect on life. And we recently turned our clocks back; that lovely fall ritual that now causes you to wake up in the dark and come home in the dark.

    I’ve found the 90 minute sprint focus to be the most beneficial when I don’t any commitments outside the studio; when I can just stay at home and work. I think we can multi-task and focus on those tasks with some level of intensity to a certain extent. However, when we have so many balls in the air and don’t spend enough time on any one of them, then we are doing ourselves and others a dis-service.

    Dora, congrats on devoting so much time to clay and not worrying about the “Martha Stewart syndrome.”

    -Amy

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