Interval Work


Working with great intensity for short periods of time. It’s goal is maximize aggregate productivity per a unit of time.

This strategy acknowledges that a given day is either largely commandeered by shallow work or that there’s only a finite amount of time during the day in which a person can be maximally productive (physiologically-limited productivity) . The solution this strategy seeks is to apply the interval training philosophy of athletic trainers to the scheduling of work throughout a given day. One must work hard in intervals, either between periods of shallow work or deliberately selected rest periods.

Teddy Roosevelt Example

“He would then remove the time spent in recitation and classes, athletic training (which was once a day), and lunch. The fragments that remained were then considered time exclusively for studying. As notes, these fragments didn’t usually add up to a large number of total hours, but he would get the most out of them by working only on schoolwork during these periods, and doing so with blistering intensity. ‘The amount of time he spent at his desk was comparatively small,’ explained [biographer Edmund Morris], ‘but his concentration was so intense, and his reading so rapid, that he could afford more time off [from schoolwork] than most.’ “(167, Deep Work)


Deep Work by Cal Newport

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