If you’re familiar with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Tabata, or any other form of interval training, then you already have a decent understanding of how these physical training techniques can transform your workouts.
You can apply that same approach to working through your to-do list for your home-based business.
Work. Rest. Repeat.
HIIT workouts involve short segments of heart-strengthening cardio exercise interspersed with periods of no-to-light activity that allow you to rest and catch your breath. An example would be several one-minute intervals of jumping jacks, squat jumps, or sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest. Then repeat for the next 15-30 minutes.
Busy people adore these workouts because they take less time than the standard exercise routine but produce the same (or better) results. It’s easier to give it your all during those moments of intense work when you know you have a rest soon. The break lets you take in some much-needed air, so your next burst of intensity can be powerful—a pretty beneficial cycle.
Has this ever happened to you? Your schedule seems so overwhelming that you find it difficult to start and look for a thousand other little things to do instead. Working in intervals is an excellent way to tackle the day from a mental wellness standpoint.
Scheduling time to work with planned downtime in between helps you overcome any mental blocks to getting started. You can do anything for 30 minutes when you know you get to do something fun at the end. And when taking those scheduled rests, you can enjoy chilling out even more instead of feeling guilty about not working.
Now that you have a general idea of how it works and why it’s necessary, here are a few tips to help you make the most of working in intervals.
Create Your Interval
Also known as “time blocks,” break up your day into chunks of time, alternating work with a bit of rest. Find specific intervals where you can concentrate only on one task from your to-do list. For example, identify your most productive times of day to focus on your most complex and high-priority items. Put everything else aside—no multitasking.
You may choose to work for 50 minutes and rest for 10. You know yourself best, so start experimenting at whatever interval you think will work.
The blocks of time you choose aren’t as important as you using something to divide your work into intervals to stay motivated. If necessary, a productivity app can help you stick to whatever work-rest interval you choose.
Fun Fact: Using a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, Italian author Francesco Cirillo created his famous Pomodoro Technique in the 1980s to build an effective study schedule. (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.) He set the tomato timer for 25 minutes, worked until it dinged, then allowed himself five minutes of rest.
Make the Most of Small Moments
If you find a spare 10 minutes here or there, use it to tackle the smaller items on your to-do list, like sending or reading an email. Lean into those moments with a clear purpose: send one email, check Google Analytics, get further ahead in that dropshipping tutorial, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much you can knock out.
Turn Off Distractions
Not checking the text message that just dinged on your phone, your email inbox, your Instagram followers, or the Timehop memory that just popped up (It gets us every time!) is easier said than done. That’s why you must put these distractions somewhere you can’t easily see during your work intervals or turn them off completely.
As with a HIIT workout, you’ll only get results if you’re 100% focused during your sessions. To remain focused, list the distractions you need to avoid. Some of these may be work-related, but they can take your focus off your main task. Schedule a different time to perform these less significant jobs. Hint: Mornings are often our most productive time to knock out the biggest needle-movers.
Define Those Recovery Periods
The interval system works based on routine rewards. So, plan those rewards ahead of time with stuff you look forward to doing. Watch 15 minutes of your favorite show, take a walk, or make some tea. Just be sure it’s an activity you can easily cut off when it’s time to return to work. (These breaks might not be the best time to call that chatty friend or family member.)
Apply to Your Life
This technique works for everything. It’s entertaining to see what kind of housekeeping you can get done during the commercials of your favorite show—the whole family might love this one. Hate dealing with laundry? Cleaning the house? Keeping up with the lawn and garden? Do it in intervals.
Take Advantage of Being Your Own Boss
Taking interval training concepts from the gym to your home office will boost your productivity and make your to-do list more manageable. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain extra time to enjoy your life. And isn’t that one of the best reasons to be your own boss in the first place?