Work Like A Sprinter, Forget Facebook, And Go Outside: How To Feel Better Getting Stuff Done

Simple but effective productivity tips from entrepreneur coach and author Phil Drolet. Ready, set... work smarter!

There are two types of workers in the world. Those who are like marathon runners, working slow and steady for hours at a time, and sprinters, who alternate high-intensity work with frequent rest.

From what I've seen, one of the keys to optimal productivity is to keep a high level of focus while staying mentally fresh throughout the day. The best way to do this is by alternating bursts of highly focused work with regular breaks to unplug and rejuvenate. This can be set up in chunks of 25 minutes of work / 5 minutes of rest, or 50 minutes of work / 10 minutes of rest.

Phil Drolet

By working this way, you’ll work faster, get more done throughout the day, and still have energy left over to exercise, cook a healthy dinner, and spend quality time with loved ones at night.

To develop the habit of working like a sprinter, you can use apps like Focus Booster or Time Out, or set a timer on your phone.

Or, go old school and put on an hour-long music mix and work until the music stops.

Phil Drolet is a performance coach in Boulder, Colorado.

[Image: Flickr user Larry Jacobsen]

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  • Sir_Oliver_Oliver

    I'm conditioned to work like that ever since I was a kid (guess just wanted to get out and play). That's how I do my job now. Problem: management always gives me grief about it (like that 10 min it's costing them millions), and they consider people who stay after regular work hours (wasting time through lunch to balance checkbook, download porn, whatever) to be "more productive." I get my week-worth of stuff done through Wednesday. Think I have incentives to go overboard with their crap???  

  • phildrolet

     I hear you man... I used to feel the same way back in my corporate days. Have you read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss? He offers great advice to deal with this kind of situation... 

  • phildrolet

    Hey  , thanks for your comment. I gave a one size fits all prescription for simplicity's sake, but I'm a big advocate of experimentation. 50/10 might not be the best split for everyone, but physiologically we're all wired to alternate intense activity with periods of rest. You might prefer the Pomodoro method (25/5) or something longer (90/15) but taking regular breaks is sure to benefit you.

  • BenGleck

    Fair enough. I felt badly not being able to offer a constructive comment, but being short on time I wanted to at least sound a caution along the lines of "some people are race horses, and others are turtles." Your recovery shows that you understood the point and adjusted accordingly. You're certainly right that your main point stands regardless.

  • phildrolet

    Yeah and even I alternate between those different timeframes depending on time of the day and how I feel.. ultimately, the most important is to gain awareness over our own mind/body and know when it's time to take a break.. and be able to discern with those times when we need to push on (ie, feeling resistance because the task is hard, and we just want to go to the kitchen to get a snack and avoid the work)

  • Aloke

    Phil, couldn't agree with you more.

    I think breaking work into smaller tasks is key, and planning breaks are crucial as well.

    I had the same solution and got down to it one day and hacked on this: