The 90/30 Challenge to SuperHuman Productivity
The future is here. It’s smarter, faster, and better. But it is not without distractions. Too many of us are constantly overwhelmed by projects, goals, tasks, phone calls, emails and the constant demand on their time by everyone close to them.
But you can still find sanity in the midst of the chaos. You can cut back, simplify, and de-load. You can find time in the midst of the chaos to do your most important work. You can concentrate on important but not urgent work.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot ” says Michael Altshuler once said,
You are in control of your time. You should also take charge of the time you choose to work on your highest priority work.
The human body operates on cycles called “ultradian rhythms.” According to research, during each of these cycles, there is a peak when we are most energized and a period when we are exhausted.
People who work with instead of against their ultradian rhythm perform better. It’s critical that we acknowledge our body’s natural rhythms and align our periods of work and relaxation with them to work in a sustainable productive way.
You are most active in the morning. Do your best work in whilst you have willpower and energy at its peak.
The 90/30 challenge
For the past three months, I’ve begun my workdays by focusing for 90 minutes, uninterrupted, on one task I decide the night before is the most important one I’ll face the following day. After 90 minutes, I take a break.
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.
I write my Medium posts first thing in the morning, uninterrupted.
I started this practice because I’ve discovered that my energy and capacity for intense deep work diminish as the day wears on.
Anything really challenging that I put off tends not to get done.
The basic principle of the 90/30 challenge is to start your day by spending the first 90 minutes on your most important task.
Simply stated: for the next 30 days, dedicate the first 90 minutes of your work day to your single most important task.
I recommend 90 minutes because that’s what research suggests is the optimal human limit for focusing intensely on any given task.
At the heart of making this work is to build highly precise, deliberate practices, done at specific times, so they eventually become automatic and don’t require much expenditure of energy or self-discipline.
I choose the next day’s work the night before because I don’t want to spend energy, time and limited attention thinking about what to do during the time I’ve set aside to actually do the work.
The way you start your day powerfully shapes how productively you live it.
Your energy, motivation, and will to work “dips” as the day progresses, it’s important to plan accordingly and do your best and high-level work early in the day.
Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time. Afterward, a 20–30-minutes break is required for you to get the renewal to achieve high performance for your next task again, according to research.
Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance” explains:
“Many of us unwittingly train ourselves to ignore signals from our body that we need a rest — difficulty concentrating, physical restlessness, irritability. Instead, we find ways to override this need with caffeine, sugar, and our own stress hormones — adrenalin, noradrenalin, and cortisol — all of which provide short bursts of energy but leave us over aroused.”
Use your peak time carefully. You want to be solving problems, getting answers, and making decisions in your most productive time.
Use your peak time, when you feel alert and excited, for tasks that involve problem-solving, complex thought, and critical decisions.
It’s only when you come to appreciate and accept the ebbs and flows of your body that you can really start to deliver maximum results.
Start and end your day on purpose
A focused work rule is important for peak performance.
Jim Rohn said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” If you have clarity of purpose every morning, your focus will change.
There’re a million different ways your morning could go but if you observe the first 90 minutes rule, you can accomplish so much every.
Spend your last 20 minutes every day to reflect, process, and prioritize for the next day. End your day on purpose.
And focus your energy on getting it accomplished the next morning once you are ready to begin your day.
Stephen Covey once said: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically — to say “no” to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.”
Many people pay little attention to the natural rhythms of their body. But once you know what times in the morning you can work better, use it your advantage and your body can deliver at its peak.
Working in 90-minute bursts first thing in the morning allows you to correlate your maximum energy levels with your most important task, which then gives your productivity a major boost. It’s only when you come to appreciate and accept the ebbs and flows of your body that you can really start to deliver maximum results.
Before you go…
If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly (my free digest of the best best productivity, career and self improvement posts). Subscribe and get a free copy of my new eBook, “The Power of One Percent Better: Small Gains, Maximum Results”. Join 21,000+ readers.