I have written extensively over the years about the Power of 48 minutes. Simply this is a way to divide an hour up 80/20. The way the program works is to block out all distractions and do one task for 48 minutes and then take a 12 minute break. Repeat as necessary. The beauty of it is its simplicity.
Using this single-tasking idea has helped me accomplish many large projects over the years such as writing a book, training for a triathlon, and getting my workday under control. The key to making it work is preparation. I need to clear my area of distractions by turning off e-mail, my phone, and any browsers I may have open. I then set a timer for 48 minutes and begin.
The really cool thing about a 48 minute period is that it can be divided in many different ways. You can do two projects in that time at 24 minutes each, three projects at 16 minutes, four projects at 12 minutes and eight projects at 6 minutes.
To make this division easier to plan, I’ve come up with some simple planning sheets marked up by time. I have a basic planning sheet divided up in 6 minute intervals which allows a lot of flexibility. I’ve also provided color coded sheets for two, three, and four projects each. Each sheet has the time elapsed on the right side and a check-off box for completion.
I find that I can get a lot of smaller things accomplished by using these sheets to plan ahead. The real problem with single-tasking strategies is the break time. If you re-introduce distractions, you often will not be able to continue. 48 minutes works well since it is based around the common hour and gives you time to stretch, use the restroom, and fill up your coffee.
If you don’t have an hour, you can use the sheets for shorter periods of time. If you are familiar with other single-tasking strategies such as Pomodoro, you might find these sheets helpful in dividing your time up in strategic ways.
Here is a custom sheet I did for a web project this week. Using the basic sheet, I divided my 48 minute time period into 4 different projects. Using the sheet allowed me to allocate individual time periods, without using too much time on any one item. This really works well when you have an hour and you have to get multiple things done. Using a timer on the desk or computer will keep you moving along. Get to the end of your time period, you need to move to the next item. Really helps with procrastination or open ended projects.
Here is a short video showing the procedure…
The four different planning sheets are available in MS Word format and also PDF in a single zip file. Download and enjoy the freedom of a well planned hour.
Question: Have you tried single-tasking before?