One of the toughest aspects of working, much less working from home, is being productive while there are so many distractions around us.
Here's a technique I learned from Alex Mandosian that has made huge differences in my business:
It's called The 48-Minute Technique™, and for the cost of a simple $8.97 kitchen countdown timer you can start implementing it in your business.
How does The 48-Minute Technique work?
Simple: as you start each day, before you check your messages, email, slack or phone, you set your countdown kitchen timer for 48 minutes, get everything ready to go to accomplish your #1 most important task for the day, then press the start button on the timer.
Then you work like crazy for 48 minutes to get it done.
The key is – this is focused time. Once you hit the start button, you've committed to yourself that you won't do anything else other than that one task until the timer rings.
(Even if your phone's notifications are going off like crazy. They'll wait, you've got work to do right now.)
When the alarm goes off (this is also key) stop, right in the middle of the sentence you were writing or whatever you were doing. Then spend 12 minutes doing something else. Refill your water bottle, walk, stretch, play with the kids, answer questions, and if you must – check those messages (though I'd prefer you didn't do that quite yet.)
At the end of 12 minutes, start the timer again, and jump right into another 48-minute session, again, with no distractions.
Let's talk about what you've just accomplished
- 1You've started your day with YOU being in control of your time and attention.
As soon as you check your messages, you become subject to everyone else's demands on your time and attention. This way, even if everything else goes south in your day, you've accomplished something important to moving your business forward.
- 2You just effectively doubled your productive time in the day.
Scientists tell us that the average person is able to spend less than 2 hours in truly productive work during the day.
Start off your day with The 48-Minute Technique and you'll have hour and a half of highly-productive action before you meet the normal demands of the day. (2-48 minute sessions less the 3 minutes that it takes to really get into the groove each time you hit the start button.) Then as the day progresses, you'll likely still get an hour or two of productive work doing the things you would normally do during the day.
The net result – you just doubled your productive hours every day you do this. That's why I say this doubles your productivity!
- 3You've clearly communicated a message to your brain that you are proactively taking charge of your life, not reacting to everyone else.
This mindset can revolutionize and empower you in ways you've never felt before. You'll feel more in control, excited, and enthusiastic about life and everything going on around you.
There are several keys to success to making this work:
- 1Block off the first 2 hours of your day for 48-minute work.
Though you can do this at any time during your day, I recommend it as the first thing you do during the day.
Blocking off those hours on your calendar now, for the rest of the year, makes it so that nobody else can insert themselves into your calendar during that time, ensuring this actually happens. (I know, sometimes our schedule doesn't allow this, you may have to actually start work earlier on some days to get this work in.)
- 2Buy a timer, don't use your phone.
I know, your cellphone has a timer on it. You could save $9, and that will be just as good, right?Nope, because of one key thing. Your cellphone preserves its battery life by turning off the screen after a few seconds. You actually WANT to see the timer steadily counting down.
A quick glance tells you “oh no, I only have 12 minutes left, I need to work faster.” That actually kicks off good hormones, which cause an extra burst of energy and focus in your brain, significantly improving your productivity. I recommend you look at that timer every few minutes to renew those hormones.
Plus, it's best if your phone is out of reach and out of mind while you're doing this so you can stay focused. (I mute mine, including notifications, and put it on my side-desk while I do this, so I'm not tempted to use it as a distraction when my brain wants to do something else rather than stay focused.)
- 3There's a reason we stopped working right in the middle of the sentence/task.
Brains are funny animals. When a task isn't finished, they have a compelling desire to close the loop. (They claim that's how Mozart's father would get him out of bed in the morning – he'd play all the notes of a scale on the piano except the last one. Young Mozart felt compelled to get out of bed and run down to the piano and close the loop by playing the last note of the scale.)
We take advantage of that in this technique. By leaving the task (that sentence) uncompleted, it's easier and faster to get back into it for the second round. All you have to do is to complete the sentence you were already writing. So you get even more productive time – finishing the sentence invites flow into the next sentence so your brain doesn't have to figure out what to do next.
(The thing that makes me love this technique so much is that it's full of practical brain science. We are using brain science to get our brains to be even smarter and more productive. BOOM.)
- 4Use 48 minutes, not 25 like Pomodoro teaches.
Even though Pomodoro was smart enough to figure out the value of focused time, I think he was smart enough to figure out that the average adult CAN focus for 48 minutes in a sitting. Since it takes about 3-5 minutes every time you start doing something to get into the groove on that task. 25 minutes thus turns into 20-22 minutes. Wouldn't you rather have 45 minutes of solid productivity rather than 20?Besides that, you're (presumably) an adult. You can focus for 48 minutes, can't you?
- 5You can do this more than twice during a day.
I've been known to do it solid for 6-8 rounds of 48 minutes. It does get harder after awhile though, and there are so many things I need to do that it's pretty rare than I do more than 2 sessions.
Plus, I want my brain and body to view this as a precious, fun and exciting time. Doing it too often in a single day starts feeling to me like drudgery – something my brain avoids and doesn't want to do.
- 6If there are others around (spouse, children, co-workers) you may need to create a sign to post on your door to let them know you're in a distraction-free place right now.
Teach them that access to you is never more than 48 minutes away, and you'll connect with them then.
The rewards are huge
Many of the key accomplishments and things I've created over the last 15 years have come from doing this technique.
What do you think? Are you willing to try this?
Let me know by leaving a comment below. And don't forget to like and share it with your friends – they could use a way to be more productive right now too!