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52 and 17: The Productivity Hack Your Boss Will Hate

I once had an associate who worked as a croupier at a casino. I thought it was an enviable job because of the generous working conditions. You’re basically getting paid to gamble, you get free meals, your uniform is taken care of and you get a 15 minute break for every hour worked. Despite the benefits, working at casinos can be incredibly depressing. It’s an environment full of losers losing. It’s no wonder this associate of mine had a drug problem. Anyway, there was one thing this casino was getting about right. The frequent breaks.

A recent study by time tracking software spruikers Desk Time found that the most productive people take a 17 minute break after working for 52 minutes (a caveat – study sample was predominately of screen slaves so if you work sitting at a computer all day this hack is for you). The study suggests that productivity gains compound in the 52 minute work phase because this time is treated as a sprint. You’re inspired to race against the clock to plow through workflow and then incentivized with a tasty 17 minute break to relax your concentration. This is exactly why the casino gives frequent rest breaks – croupiers need an intense concentration to calculate payouts when gamblers win. Frequent breaks help them regain focus and less payout errors occur.

To get the most out of your 52 minute work sprint, you need to commit to absolute 100% focus. That means no multitasking. No checking Facebook or emails halfway through writing a sentence or updating a spreadsheet. 100% LASER GUIDED FOCUS ON ONE TASK. 52 minutes isn’t even an hour! Surely you can concentrate for less than an hour?

To your boss, the 17 minute break time probably sounds like an age and this is why they will hate the idea. The break phase is only just over 15 minutes, the same break time as the casino. So why not break for 15 minutes instead of 17? Psychologically, short changing yourself those 2 minutes will give you less incentive to work harder during the work sprint. A 17 minute break seems a lot longer than it really is.

What you choose to do during your 17 minute break time is entirely up to you but it’s best to stand up and walk away. Sitting in front of a computer for too long is just not healthy. Try to move about. Do something physical – walk, stretch, play ping pong. Maybe even try doing 100 push-ups and 300 sit ups. Just don’t spend this entire break time sitting and not moving.

Try 52 and 17 for a week and see what happens!

2 Responses to 52 and 17: The Productivity Hack Your Boss Will Hate

  1. Wishing your a superfantastic birthday Timster. May all your trails be happy and your tummy full of local food 🙂

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