Why you need to unplug every 90-120 minutes

Human Resources, Uncategorized

Since sprints get us to focus in and finish our tasks with crisp consciousness, we know they’re the most effective way of working. But what’s fascinating is why they make us work so well.

For Leo Widrich at Buffer, it’s in human nature: while we often imagine ourselves as machines–which move linearly–we’re actually organisms, which move cyclically. And to do our most creative, productive work, we need to step to that rhythm.

The cycle of doing your best work

Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break, Widrich reports. Why? It’s the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that’s present in both our sleeping and waking lives.

As Tony Schwartz has reported, this was first discovered by Nathan Kleitman, a groundbreaking sleep researcher. He called it the “basic rest-activity cycle”: the 90-minute cycles during which you progress through the five stages of sleep. Kleitman found the 90-minute pattern in our days, too, as we move from higher to lower alertness–the ultradian rhythm.

What working with the rhythm looks like

The 90-minute cycle works. Schwartz wrote a book in under six months by carving his workday into a trio of 90-minute chunks.

Without ever reading productivity posts (we assume), other fields found the 90-minute rhythm, too. In a widely cited study of prodigious violinists, psychologist Anders Ericsson found that the top performers all had the same practice characteristics:

  • They practiced in the morning
  • They practiced for three sessions
  • Each sessions was 90 minutes or less
  • There was a break between each session

That same pattern is found in other top performers, Schwartz reports: focus then rest, focus then rest.

To be “gotten over”

In an elegant post on Medium, digital strategist Tom Gibson echoes Widrich’s naturalism, observing that these ebbs and flows “make the pattern make the pattern of organic labour” and are not “to be worked around, to be ‘gotten over.’” If you understand them–and work with them–you can do better work, the same way that knowing the mechanics of a truck’s engine enhances performances.

In this way, the time you unplug is a part of, not opposite to, your workday, as Gibson continues:

“We need to incorporate ‘off time’–the outward breath, the ebb–into our working patterns. Not with simple lip-service like ‘you need to sleep better,’ but as an integral, affirmed part of the process of working…

We need to understand that ‘on’ is impossible without ‘off,’ and that the distance between the two needs to be made closer: like the beats of a heart or the steps of a runner.”

The origin of the 8 hour work day and why we should rethink it

https://blog.bufferapp.com/optimal-work-time-how-long-should-we-work-every-day-the-science-of-mental-strength

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5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable

Human Resources, Uncategorized

Being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you.

There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.

  • Disrespectful: Being on time is about respect. It signals that you value and appreciate the other person. If you don’t respect the meeting’s participants, why are you meeting with them in the first place?
  • Inconsiderate: Unintentionally being late demonstrates an overall lack of consideration for the lives of others. You just don’t care.
  • Big-Timing: Intentionally being late is about power. It’s showing the other person, or people that you’re a “big deal” and have the upper-hand in the relationship. It’s also called being a dick.
  • Incredible: No, not in the good way. When you miss meeting times or deadlines, your credibility takes the trajectory of a lead balloon. If you can’t be counted on to be on time, how could you possibly have credibility around far tougher tasks?
  • Unprofitable: Let’s consider a scenario where five people are holding a meeting at 2 p.m. Your sauntering in ten minutes late just wasted 40 minutes of other peoples’ time. Let’s say the organization bills $200/hour. Are you paying the $133 bill? Someone certainly is.
  • Disorganized: If you can’t keep your calendar, what other parts of your life are teetering on the edge of complete disaster?
  • Overly-Busy: Everyone likes to equate busyness with importance, but the truly successful know that’s BS. Having a perpetually hectic schedule just signals that you can’t prioritize, or say “no,” neither of which is an endearing trait.
  • Flaky: Apparently some people just “flake out,” which seems to mean that they arbitrarily decided not to do the thing they committed to at the very last minute.
  • Megalomaniacal: While most grow out of this by the age of eight, some genuinely believe they are the center of the universe. It’s not attractive.

As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.

Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brentbeshore/2015/08/02/5-minutes-early-is-on-time-on-time-is-late-late-is-unacceptable/#3f99586a1b2a

We are in Alpha

Uncategorized

What is an Alpha version:

A very early version of a software product that may not contain all of the features that are planned for the final version. Typically, software goes through two stages of testing before it is considered finished. The first stage, called alpha testing, is often performed only by users within the organization developing the software. The second stage, called beta testing , generally involves a limited number of external users.