Paramix Talk: High Intensity Interval Work

High Intensity Interval Work

By: Eddie Baki, 12.4.2011, 06:17

High Intensity Interval Work (HIIW) breaks your work day into short yet highly focused time intervals, typically between 45 and 120 minutes long. During each time interval you focus on completing one single task, and shut out any distractions.

Each time interval is followed by a short break, between 10 and 30 minutes, allowing you to regenerate and prepare yourself for the next work segment.

What are the advantages of HIIW?

1.You produce more in less time
One hour of concentrated work produces more than multiple hours full of distractions and disturbances.

2. You work smarter
You push yourself to accomplish your work within the allocated time. You avoid dumb time-consuming work. You no more have all day.

3. High self-confidence
Fulfilling each task within its time slot gives you a higher sense of achievement.

4. You have an interesting day
Your work day is no more an amorphous mass, but a string of highly effective time segments spent on a diversity of tasks.

5. Better planing
Breaking up a job into several short time intervals makes it easier to plan and ultimately to complete.

6. More free time
HIIW gives you more breaks and an overall shorter work day. Your intense and focused work is going to have a heavy toll on you. it will be very hard to exceed eight work hours (= four 120 minutes segments) per day - if you do you will compromise next day's performance.

How did HIIW come about?

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is an effective protocol in sports. You use HIIT when lifting weights. You lift for one set, have a short rest and then lift again. You can also use HIIT when jogging. Instead of running continuously for 30 minutes, you sprint for 1-2 minutes, walk leisurely for 2-5 minutes and the sprint again for a couple for minutes.

HIIT has proven to be very effective in building muscle and burning fat. In sports it is impossible to lift a challenging weight or sprint for hours on end. Yet working non-stop for 12+ hours is often accepted as fact and is often aspired by young start-ups.

How to start with HIIW

1. Plan your segments
Your diverse tasks, projects, meetings etc have to be broken up into time segments ranging from 30 to 120 minutes. Anything requiring less than 30 minutes is not worth planing. Anything requiring more than 120 minutes must be divided into more discrete segments.

Why the 120 minute limit? Working fully concentrated for longer than 2 hours is very hard and will very often lead to boredom, loss of motivation, and drive you to actively seek distractions, such as chatting people up in the office, reading blogs, etc.

With short time segments, it is easier to concentrate as the end of the tunnel is near.

2. Exploit your breaks
Each work interval is followed by a short break of ca. 10 to 30 minutes. These breaks are designed to enable you to recuperate from the previous session and get ready for the next segment. Here you talk with colleagues, take a walk, a small meal or a nap. Key is to be able to do another session of highly focused work after the break. A high quality break produces a high intensity work interval.

3. Integrate your distractions
E-mails, phone calls, meetings are all necessary, as none of us operate alone. Set time segments for reading emails, returning phone calls or having meetings. Don't sacrifice your breaks for these activities. Remember you need your breaks to rejuvenate yourself.

4. Cut off naturally
It happens that a job planned for two hours turns out to require five hours. What do you do? You stop at a natural cut-off point within the 120 minutes range. You then decide on whether to continue on the same job after your break, or rather do another task first and then go back to this original work.

In order to maintain high productivity and motivation levels, it is recommended not to work on the same task in two consequent time intervals. However, when you have to meet a looming deadline or settle an urgent issue, dedicating multiple time intervals to the same issue is unavoidable.

5. Keep a log
Log start and end times of each time interval and the list the work you accomplished during this time. This gives you a qualitative and quantitative view on your daily productivity.

I have been working along HIIW guidelines for nearly two years now. It has substantially elevated my productivity. With HIIW you no longer have long tedious unproductive days, but a set of highly effective sessions. In less time you achieve more.

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