If you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, get out from under your rock and hit up some Google.
The net of it is a method for time management/productivity that takes advantage of some basic psychology and the valuable resources of focus and attention. Turns out the average time that your brain can stay attentive to a task before fatiguing (losing focus) is about 25 mins (plus or minus a few). It also only takes about 5 mins of doing/thinking about something else to recharge those neurons, stretch out your mental agility and get you back in the game. I have used the technique to great result for a several months now, and have recently added a bit of a lifestyle hack to squeeze even more productivity.
If you’re anything like me, you find carving out time in the day for the exercise that you know is good for you difficult. Especially in the hectic reality that is early stage startup life. I work from home, and have a pretty kitted out functional fitness gym in my garage from my gym ownership days, and even then, weeks can go by without so much as turning on the lights.
One day, it dawned on me that if I chose a few movements (usually 3-5 reps of something challenging like deadlifts or weighted pull-ups, but this could easily be air-squats or push-ups at your desk) that I could get through in 5 mins or less, I could squeeze them in every time my Pomodoro timer went off. By the end of the work day, I average about 8-10 sets of whatever movements I have chosen, and have accumulated a good about of volume.
While this work:work(out) strategy has obvious benefits from the exercise, the mental changes have been the real winner here. There is nothing like a good blast of adrenalin and cortisol from a brisk workout to really fire up the engine and clear your head. The stress from whatever task you were working on is temporarily wiped away, and when you come back, you feel not only refreshed, but can approach the problem with new eyes. Many a simple solution to my head scratching problems has come from returning to the issue after a work:work cycle.
It may not work for you, but I suggest giving it a try to see what happens. At the very least, you will squeeze in a solid workout.
Also published on Medium.