Although this makes me sound like a massive geek, I am very interested in using mindfulness and focusing techniques in time management. I have written on my personal blog about the Pomodoro technique. But whilst the pomodoro technique is good, it is not scientific enough, in my view. For example, I have found for most people 25 minutes is slightly too long to focus.
After a lot of research and some earnest experimentation myself, I can now offer a more scientifically validated time management technique which anyone can easily implement.
I have named this revolutionary system: ‘That’s Un Oeuf!’ (TM).
The ‘That’s Un Oeuf!’ system is guaranteed to boost your productivity and increase your wellbeing through the simple expedient of a kitchen timer shaped like an egg.
Here’s how it works:
1. Buy your Oeuf-shaped kitchen timer. It MUST be shaped like an egg to have any effect. This is scientific fact.
2. Set the timer for 22 minutes.
3. In the minute of your Un Oeuf (pronounced, ‘Enough’), identify a clear objective which you want to achieve and be clear about the value you are working towards.
4. Start working through your Un Oeuf without any distractions – turn all other applications off.
5. If you become distracted, simply notice that distraction and bring your attention back to the present moment and to your objective.
6. Once the timer sounds, point at the kitchen timer and say the words:
“That’s Un Oeuf.”
THEN GET UP AND WALK AWAY.
7. It is critical to move at this point, and to attend to whatever it was the distracted you. Get a cup of tea, do some cleaning, write an item for your to do list down, do 10 press ups, walk to the printer. Whatever. You’ve got 5 minutes’ break. Then, go again.
I recommend doing blocks of 3-4 Un Oeufs at any one time, then taking a longer break. In this more extended break, make sure you move around. I often do household chores in this period if I’m working from home (live the dream), or I go and have a chat with someone if I’m in the office. You may also want to catch up on e-mail or Facebook etc.
I recommend doing 12 Un Oeufs a day, and the rest of the time should be doing e-mail or calls, meetings and more relaxed or creative tasks.
Incidentally, if using a kitchen timer is not an option (for example, in an open plan office or the ‘quiet’ coach of a Virgin train) then use this very handy online timer.
The science behind this approach is overwhelming, but if you want some primary sources here goes:
- The myth of multitasking – read Brain Rules by John Medina
- Distraction and wellbeing – read Gilbert and Killingsworth, 2010
- Mckinsey Quarterly January 2011
- The need to move – listen to this on the BBC World Service
- The average length of human attention span
Please let me know how you get on with the revolutionary ‘That’s Un Oeuf!’ Time Management System, I would love to hear your experiences.
But for now, That really is ‘Un Oeuf’.