Want to Boost Efficiency? Try Interval Training

When we read this piece on The New York Times about interval training we thought, “Hmmm, a piece about exercising.”

Little did we know it underscored the importance of becoming more efficient at work through the metaphor of exercising. And literally about exercising, too!

In the piece Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything, writes:

“Why should you care if you’re not a runner, and this is a column about the workplace? The answer is I’ve long since learned that what’s true for us physically usually turns out to be equally true mentally and emotionally.

Most of us feel deeply challenged by how to get more done, more efficiently, in a world of relentlessly rising demand. The default answer is to put in more time. But just as that may be counterproductive in workouts, so it is at work.”

Have you ever felt bursts of energy and productivity followed by a period of non-productivity or a break and the need to clear your mind and walk away? If so, you’re not alone in thinking you can get done more meaningful work completed in shorter periods of time.

Keeping interval training in mind, high intensity intervals may be draining and unbearable but there’s a short-term reward: The light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not forever, it’s brief bursts of output. Schwartz recognizes that “focusing single-mindedly on a challenging task in successive intervals is mentally taxing and, at times, exhausting.”

Short-term discomfort though can help push ourselves even further. Here’s how to do it: Set up rituals.

He suggests, “Set up highly specific behaviors you do over and over at precise times so they become automatic as quickly as possible and no longer require conscious intention.”