excerpted from NY Mag:
As Tony Schwartz, author and CEO of the Energy Project, once wrote for the Harvard Business Review that we can steal the habits of elite violinists and apply them to our comparatively humdrum to-do lists. Schwartz writes:
Consider the study that performance expert Anders Ericcson did of violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music. The best of the violinists practiced in sessions no longer than 90 minutes, and took a break in between each one. They almost never practiced more than 4 ½ hours over a day. What they instinctively understood was the law of diminishing returns.
The top violinists also got an average of more than 8 hours of sleep a night, and took a 20-30 minute nap every afternoon. Over a week, they slept 16 hours more than the average American does.From where I sit and from my personal experience, this advice seems to make sense. 90 minutes gives us enough time to enter into a place of greater focus and allows us to accomplish a significant portion of the task. Yet allowing for the rhythm of a work and rest cycle also then gives us the needed energy and stamina to accomplish more throughout the day.
The key therefore is not to get into either of two extremes. Either being always interrupted and checking email and social media accounts throughout the day. Or simply never stopping and always working toward complete exhaustion. In order to help stay accountable to this 90 minute work rhythm you may want to check out some of these time-tracking apps.