How Productivity Sprints Can Save Your Mental Health

Do you find yourself feeling foggy-headed after staring at a screen for a few hours? Do you tend to lose motivation as the work day or school day progresses? Is it difficult for you to concentrate during long meetings?

Then you might be a sprinter and not a long-distance runner.

Most people find it difficult to maintain motivation and focus for longer than 90 to 120 minutes at a time. After that, our productivity and energy for a particular task begins to decrease. Our brains generally work best in rhythms, with periods of high intensity and focused attention followed by breaks of at least 20-30 minutes.

The concept of productivity sprints emerged as a way to work with this natural rhythm, instead of against it. Western culture promotes a strong work ethic and this mindset is often coupled with the concept that “more hours equals more productivity.” However research has shown that this is not the case, and that productivity actually begins to decline after about two hours of focused attention on a particular task.

Many companies and thought leaders incorporate productivity sprints into their daily schedules in order to maintain peak performance. Each productivity sprint has a specific time limit and a specific goal, and is followed by a break which can include any activity that feels restful and rejuvenating. Some individuals claim sprints of 90-120 minutes lead to the best results, while others work in sprints of 30-45 minutes with shorter breaks in between. The key to a successful productivity sprint is minimizing distractions and putting 100 percent of the focus on the task at hand.

Resting is one of the most important aspects of productivity and of mental health. Pushing ourselves too hard or too far mentally can lead to anxiety, stress, and depression as well as a host of physical ailments. Designing your schedule around productivity sprints may be an adjustment at first, but it could ultimately lead to a healthier mental state and increased productivity.

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