Don’t Work Longer Than This Much At A Time

February 16, 2018By
Stop Watch

Don’t work more than 30 minutes at a time on any one task.

It turns out that most people do their best work if they work in 30 minute bursts.

Most people’s motivation and performance starts to dip after doing a difficult task for around 30 minutes.

Also interesting, though, is the fact that if you switch tasks throughout the day you can maintain interest and motivation.

So there are two ways to look at this.

First, you can do the same thing throughout the day, but cut it off into 30 minute bursts. You work for 30 minutes, take a little break and then get back into it.

Or you could change tasks throughout the day. One key would be to watch for things that take longer than an hour. That’s a big drop off point in the research. If you’re toiling away at the same task for hours and hours the odds are really good that your motivation and quality of work is dropping off.

Here are some tips.

1. Schedule Your Days

I find it very useful to use a calendar app to schedule my days. And I try to eliminate interruptions. I do that by scheduling time to look at email and scheduling just about any and all calls. There really aren’t any calls that I take during the workday. I wait for a voicemail and then try to setup a scheduled time via email.

This allows me to work on what I plan on working on throughout the day.

2. Breakup Your Tasks

Another big one here is to take your big plans and break them down into daily and weekly tasks. Then to break those down into even smaller tasks.

For example, I don’t sit down and brainstorm a blog post title, then research and write. I break it down so one day I’m brainstorming for 30-60 minutes and getting 10-12 titles. Then I set aside about 30-60 minutes to write each post with breaks in between if I’m writing multiple posts in a day.

3. Have Break Activities

It’s important to take short breaks. The research shows that taking breaks is good. But you can still be productive while taking your breaks.

Some of them might include going for a quick walk or even just doing some pushups and squats for five minutes. Maybe you can read an article that you’ve saved earlier in the day. Maybe you can listen to your voicemails.

Identify things that take you 5-10 minutes and use those as your break activities. You’ll get those out of the way throughout the day and you’ll be taking the breaks you need to keep working at top performance with the important tasks.

4. Audit Your Days

I like doing this every six months if possible. You could do it every three. Maybe wait to every year. The point of the audit is to make sure that you’re working on the right tasks. But it’s also to make sure that what you’re scheduling each day makes sense. That you’re not scheduling too much and setting yourself up for failure.

One trapping for a lot of people is they feel the pressure to get something done and if they don’t they work and work and really don’t do good work. They can’t sleep. They’re worrying about something that’s left undone.

A lot of times it’s just the result of poor planning and poor scheduling. The wrong expectations.

Auditing your work and scheduling and planning can often alleviate a lot of issues like this.

5. Schedule Thinking Time

Or creative time or whatever you want to call it.

I guess it could be anything not seen as making money. That’s a struggle for a lot of people in business. You want what you’re working on to lead to money.

But sometimes the things that lead to the most money don’t lead to money right away. Thinking about new ideas, for example. You’re not making short-term money just thinking and observing or reading a biography.

But it can lead to breakthroughs in other ways. I’ve found that you have to schedule this kind of time and then use it. Don’t schedule over it.


This is just a little interesting study about the work we do. The more we understand ourselves the better we can become. I think it totally makes sense that work quality decreases after 30 minutes and especially after 60 minutes. Hopefully the tips above can help you get on the right track with your work.