THE BLOG
07/24/2014 02:07 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2014

Did a Popular Time Management Hack Get It All Wrong? A Better Way To Daily Productivity

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In this day and age the 40-hr work week is looked down on in corporate America as not being good enough, its judged as "guess they don't want it bad enough" and is thought of as mediocre.

You have people like Robert Kirkman, creator of "The Walking Dead" TV series willing to go to extreme lengths to manipulate himself in order to get a few more pages of story line written per day.

Yet working more is not helping us, the US is down 2.9% GDP in the first quarter of 2014 which is the worst productivity stat since 1990.

So it seems more is not the answer.

On the other end you have people like accomplished serial entrepreneur Tim Ferris who claim that you should outsource everything and join the "new rich" by working only 4 hours per week.

The most commonly accepted solution seems to be working in more concentrated bursts of time, forcing a sense of urgency and focus. Most popular noted is the Pomodoro technique, which has gotten a lot of press lately.

This is a fairly simple technique where you work for a short spurt of 25 minutes then take a 5-15 minute break. You track it using a simple kitchen timer or one of the many phone apps that now exist.

But entrepreneur and performance coach Jameson Brandon claims that his 10+ years of experience and science prove that the Pomodoro technique got it wrong.

"Working for only a short length of 25 minutes is not long enough for the average employee and entrepreneur to get tasks done, just when they get into flow state they have to pull themselves out of it to take a mandatory break."

"Further more you run the risk of addiction to completing your Pomodoro's vs getting through your tasks", Jameson claims.

Let's turn to science to see what it revealed about world class musicians in research done by Anders Ericsson which found that elite violinists were not spending more time practicing but merely had a more deliberate focus during the time that they did practice.

On top of that it found that these musicians were actually getting more sleep on average then everyone else!

This goes against the assumed adage that all elite sports players and entertainers work more to accomplish more, barely sleep and live on caffeine and stimulants.

Just how long were these practice sessions? The best musicians would follow a 90 minute practice session followed by a 15 minute break routine.

It gets better, in a study by the Federal Aviation Administration, they found that short breaks between longer work sessions resulted in a 16% improvement in focus and awareness.

This style of working according to research from Peretz Lavie on "ultradian rhythms" lines up more closely with our bodies natural energy cycles which allow us to maintain a better focus and energy throughout the day.

In summary, conserving your energy and staying busy through the workday seems to not work anymore; the answer is shorter more focused bursts of time -- but just how much time really is up for debate. Why not try both and find what fits you better.

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