Do you get easily distracted when you should be working on a task?
Do you find yourself taking breaks more frequently than you know you should?
Do you sometimes spend too much time working on a task and then get totally burned out before finishing it?
I decided that it was high time I shared one of my ‘coaching secrets’ with all my subscribers and contacts: “The Shulem Work/Break Block System” or “WBBS” for short.
I created this concept almost two decades ago and hundreds of my clients have used it to become more productive. This was long before I had ever heard of ‘The Pomodoro Technique’ and his idea! My Work/Break Block system takes that idea a couple of steps further. Here is how it works.
Determine your personal focusing threshold.
Everyone has a different amount of time that they can sustain an activity: Your Threshold. This means you don’t stop to respond to a text, check social media, get a drink, or get lost in thought. You are able to stay ‘on task’ fully and get something useful done. YOUR threshold is the amount of time you can consistently sustain an activity without needing or taking a break of any sort. Keep in mind — that amount of time often changes depending upon the kind of activity it is. You might find that you can read a report for 30 minutes, but you can work on finances for 45 minutes. That’s okay with my system. This simply means that your threshold is different for different types of mental activity – and knowing this is super helpful. Take time over the next few days to be aware of how long you notice you are able to sustain an activity. Make a note of this.
Using your THRESHOLD.
Let’s say your threshold is 40 minutes — THAT is your WORK block time allotment. Next figure 15% of that time (40×15%=6) – which is 6 minutes and that is your BREAK block of time. So; your personal WBBS formula is 40/6 for that kind of activity. You can calculate your WBBS formula for various activities and use them when you wish.
Next get a timer.
During the time allotments that you concluded you will take care of the myriad tasks on your list, set the timer for the 40 minutes and get to work. You’ve got this!
Here is the secret sauce to this process: When the timer goes off – you MUST take the break. Set your timer for the 6 minutes and take the break. Your brain will get used to the idea that you will reward it with a guaranteed break if you make use of the WORK block of time first.
This has several psychological effects: a) You are working with a time frame that is utilizing your personal threshold, not some random amount of time which makes it more likely you can finish the time blocks. B) you are promising yourself a break – in which you will have time to respond to a call or text, get a snack, check emails, let your mind wander, etc. which reduces stress, and c) you will not get ‘stuck’ in either time block because using a timer will signify that you are done with each block when it is time to move onto the next block of time.