A Secret to High Energy: The 90 Minute Cycle

How many of us, whether entrepreneurs or cashing a paycheck, stay glued to our desks or assignments for hours, even sometimes working through lunch?  When we finally finish for the day, even when it’s late, how many resist the temptation to check office e-mail before dinner?

Tony Schwartz, chief executive officer of The Energy Project (www.theenergyproject.com) has studied stress and what keeps us at peak energy and concludes that most of us have it all wrong.  Less is more.

We actually have more energy and get more done when we take more breaks and, yes, even more vacations.  In fact, Schwartz cites studies that revealed we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.  As he puts it, “Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves – the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.”

Schwarz recommends working in 90-minute intervals as a prescription for maximizing productivity.  A study of elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players, found the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes.  They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.  Schwartz does his writing in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions – beginning first thing in the morning, with breaks between.  “I learned,” he said, “that it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. “   The more rapidly and deeply he learned to quiet his mind and relax his body, the more restored he felt afterwards.  For more inspiration, try reading his blogs at http://www.theenergyproject.com/blog/author/tony-schwartz

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