I’m a big fan of timeboxing. You set aside a time period, turn off distractions, set a timer, and do one thing during that period. It’s simple and it works wonders for getting things done. For years I’ve touted the benefits of either 48 minutes or 50 minutes as this time element. The 48 minute period is actually 80% of an hour and divides easily into many parts (24, 16, 12, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2 etc). When you are done, you take a 12 minute break and repeat as necessary. The 50 minute time period matches the clock, and is easily divisible into 5 minute chunks (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 etc) with a ten minute break at the end.
For many people, the 50 minute time block is easy to setup and track. I use it all the time for social media, writing blog posts, writing fiction chapters, making follow up calls, exercising, and generally getting important things done. The secret is pushing the timer button. Once the clock is ticking and the distractions are off, the productivity begins. I work until the timer rings and then get up and take a break.
It turns out that getting up and walking around during this ten minute break may be extending my life. Current research has found that sitting for extended periods may be killing us. Here are some sobering statistics from a popular health newsletter.
- A 2012 meta-analysis found that those who sat for the longest periods of time on a daily basis were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least
- This recent study found that six hours of uninterrupted sitting effectively counteracted the positive health benefits of a whole hour of exercise.
- One of the most recent studies in this field found that just one hour of sitting impaired blood flow to the main leg artery by as much as 50 percent!
However, here is some good news….
- On the upside, simply taking a five minute walk for every hour spent sitting was found to ameliorate the heart disease risks associated with chronic sitting.
- For intermittent movement, the key, experts say, is to avoid sitting for more than 50 minutes out of each hour.
Given this research, setting up several 50/10 minute sessions during the day may be the key to not only better productivity, but better health as well.
I like to set up three or four 50 minute sessions back to back. That way I can keep distractions to a minimum, and multiply their effectiveness. With the addition of good cardiovascular news, these sessions may be helping my heart as well. These sessions have been my key for writing numerous books and producing over a thousand blog posts over the years.
I’ve also found that a regular 50 minute session during the day of walking/interval running helps me feel better and be more alert.
Overall, the 50 Minute Solution has multiple benefits.
Why not pick up a digital timer, set it for 50 minutes and get started today. Just remember to get up and take a walk at the end.