A 90-Minute Plan for Personal Effectiveness
January 25, 2011 Leave a comment
For nearly a decade now, I’ve begun my workdays by focusing for 90 minutes, uninterrupted, on the task I decide the night before is the most important one I’ll face the following day. After 90 minutes, I take a break.
To make this possible, I turn off my email while I’m working, close all windows on my computer, and let the phone go to voicemail if it rings.
I typically get more work done during those 90 minutes, and feel more satisfied with my output, than I do for any comparable period of time the rest of the day. It can be tough on some days to fully focus for 90 minutes, but I always have a clear stopping time, which makes it easier.
I launched this practice because I long ago discovered that my energy, my will, and my capacity for intense focus diminish as the day wears on. Anything really challenging that I put off tends not to get done, and it’s the most difficult work that tends to generate the greatest enduring value.
I first made this discovery while writing a book. At the time, I’d written three previous books. For each one, I’d dutifully sit down at my desk at 7 a.m., and I’d often stay there until 7 p.m.
Looking back, I probably spent more time avoiding writing than I did actually writing. Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy making lists, responding to email, answering the phone, and keeping my desk clean and my files incredibly well organized.
There were days I never got to writing at all. It was incredibly frustrating.
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