« Update on turning e-mail addiction into GTD discipline | Main | Clutter or Work. Not both! »

October 24, 2006

Productivity and the 48 minute hour

There's a new technique that I'm finding which works extremely well as a general-purpose productivity enhancement.  I picked up this technique from LifeHacker who found it on the Success Begins Today blog. I've added my own GTD-centric spin to it and can report that my productivity is up a good 20% just because of this one trick.

Here's how it works -- at least for me. When I need to get a specific thing done:

  1. I first assemble any non-computer things I need such as books and paper on my work desk,
  2. I take a blank sheet of paper and write on it the specific Desired Outcome I want to achieve and a starting time a couple minutes ahead in the future.
  3. I take those few minutes to quickly review that I have everything I need, I know what I want to achieve, that I've turned off or shut out whatever distractions might get in the way and I know exactly why this piece of work is worth my time and what I'll get from it.
  4. When it's start time the kitchen timer that's preset for 48 minutes starts.
  5. 26248109_c377eb7079_m
  6. For those 48 minutes I focus on just completing the work to achieve the desired outcome. Nothing else. Nothing short of catastrophe or urgent bodily need will let me out of that chair until either the timer goes off or I've done what I set out to do.
  7. When the timer goes off either I'm done and I go on to the Next Action I need to deal with or I'll be coming back to this task in 12 minutes.
  8. I use that 12 minutes to walk around, attend to various needs, and do a mental GTD quick check on what I'm doing and why.  The mantra I used is Capture, Clarify, Complete and Win. Each word helps me take stock of where I'm going and what I'm doing.

We live in a world of endless information-receiving and communication-making possibilities.  But the only way you're going to put food on the table and a roof over your head is to get things done.  These 48 minutes hours focus all my attention on doing just one thing  well -- that's why they probably work as well as they do.

Give 48 minute hours a try the next time you realize you've spent half the work day doing "something", but you've accomplished nothing.


Technorati Tags: , ,


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Productivity and the 48 minute hour:


Some time ago I wrote a trivial little Windows "kitchen timer" app. I've just recompiled it with a default time of 48 minutes; anybody interested can download it from www.udell.name/timer.exe .

I've got a duel digital display timer coming via amazon - I'll let you know how that works.

I guess "I feel like a coffee" doesn't qualify as "urgent bodily need", huh?

This sounds like a very nice idea. Thanks, Bob. I'll have to figure an alternative to the kitchen timer - the ticking would drive me batty.

Post a comment


  • Who?
    Bob Walsh, (Author, managing partner of Safari Software, Inc. a micro-ISV)
    Exploring the intersection between Getting Things Done and building a micro-ISV.
    Live from Sonoma, California USA.
    Once or so a workday.
    Because there's a way to get everything done, I just know there is!
    Micro Internet Software Vendor, a self-funded startup company: See mymicroisv.com for information and resources.


  • Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality
    At Amazon.
    Buy as an ebook.
  • (begun Jan. 3, 2006)
  • Search todoorelse.com
Powered by TypePad
Member since 10/2004
My Photo