- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 1: What Is Timeboxing, Why Does It Work, And Why Should You Care?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 2: Nested Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 3: Dual Timeboxing
- Three Minutes Of…
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 3.5: Timeboxing Turns Work Into Play
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 4: Decremental Timeboxing
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 5: Incremental Timeboxing and Mixed Timeboxing
- My (Current) Timeboxing Tools: Hardware Timers
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 6: Q&A
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 7: Isn’t Timeboxing Just A Waste of Time?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 8: Don’t Those Super-Short Timeboxes Make Timeboxing Meaningless?
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 9: Birthlines And Timeboxing
- Decremental Timebox → Real Time Conversion Table
- Timeboxing Trilogy, Part 10: Timeboxing, Tony Schwartz and Recovery
- Can Timeboxing Help Me Do Really Big, Hard Things?
- Protected: How Zombie Gunship Taught Me All I Need to Know To Make My Real Life Awesome (And So Can You!): Gamifying Real Life For Fun and Profit and (Almost) For Free
- Nothing Is Hard
- Protected: All I Ever Needed to Know in Life, I Learned from Cloud Storage
- Protected: Don’t Be The Kaiser or the Fuhrer
- How To Get Nothing Done: The Art and Science of Wresting Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
“It is not about staying the course. It is not about pushing yourself for long periods of time…The key to your great performance is intense effort balanced by deep recovery. It’s becoming a sprinter inside a marathon. You live in a marathon, but the way to thrive in that marathon is to push yourself to the limit and then recover.” ~ Tony Schwartz
Hey team. It’s been a while. Welcome to another (quite unplanned) installment, the tenth, of this rather inappropriately named Timeboxing Trilogy. For those of you wanting to pick up from where we left off, check out Part 9: Birthlines And Timeboxing, ←here. ← There.
Um…the question of timeboxing and rest/recovery is on which I’ve vacillated a lot and on which I may well vacillate again. That’s just how I roll. At times, I have advocated deliberately resting between timeboxes, urging people to resist the well-meaning urge to force themselves to continue and thereby kill the proverbial golden egg-laying goose 1 of energy and concentration.
But then, sometime later, in this very series no less, I pooh-poohed the idea of taking a break, suggesting that anyone who needed a break after a 120-second timebox shouldn’t be working in the first place. And now I’m back on the side of “take a break between timeboxes, whether you feel you need to or not”. What gives? Like I’ve said, I’ve shifted between these points of view multiple times. And maybe I’ll shift again, who knows? So what’s different about this time? Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr are what’s different. Loehr and the Schwartz have written several books on the issue I’m about to discuss, including but not limited to:
- The Power of Full Engagement
- [Japanese version: 成功と幸せのための4つのエネルギー管理術─メンタル・タフネス], and
- Toughness Training for Life
- [Japanese version: メンタル・タフネス─勝ち抜く「精神力」を手に入れる].
OK, but so what? So what indeed. I guess right about now would be as good a time as any to explain just who Schwartz and Loehr are and what their story is. Um…I’m recounting this from memory, so there may be some BS/abbreviation/inaccuracy on my part. Schwartz was originally a journalist by profession; tennis was a big hobby of his. Loehr was a sports (performance) psychologist. Using knowledge and techniques that he had personally arranged, discovered and developed, Loehr showed a middle-aged Schwartz how to beat a seeded twentysomething pro player, simply by relaxing more between plays, both physically and psychologically.
So what? Give me a chance here. I’m gettin’ there; I’m gettin’ there. Loehr and Schwartz’s spiel is that there is a personal resource that is even more precious than time: energy ( = the capacity to do work). Their idea is that we build capacity by repeatedly cycling between (eu)stress and relaxation (= recovery = rest). Too much relaxation leads to atrophy, decay and unfulfilled potential; too much (eu)stress leads to pain, suffering, injury and disease. It turns out that, contrary to that constant nagging sense of guilt we always seem to be carrying around, most people don’t relax enough — and that’s everyone, from professional athletes to layfolk. And it also turns out that we all need far more relaxation than we think we do. In fact, if Schwartz and Loehr are to be believed, most of our time should be spent on relaxation 2, punctuated by short, intense bursts of exertion (=eustress).
So anyway, apparently, both eustress and relaxation are absolutely necessary for well-being and increased capacity: use it or lose it. Anyone who knows about how muscle is built is probably familiar with this idea: what happens is that exercise (= eustress) causes tiny tears in muscle tissue; these tears then heal, leaving you with tissue that’s bigger, better and stronger than before. In fact, a similar process seems to happen in bone as well (Wolff’s Law):
“bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads it is placed under. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading…The racquet-holding arm bones of tennis players become much stronger than those of the other arm. Their bodies have strengthened the bones in their racquet-holding arm since it is routinely placed under higher than normal stresses.” ~ Wikipediation
What does this have to do with Japanese? For the answer to that question, you’re going to have to check out the QRG(no, seriously)! Haha 😛 . The short answer is: not a lot, but not nothing. I guess you can:
- think of your SRS time (reps especially) as eustress, and
- the rest of your “just chillin’ and passively enjoying Japanese time” as recovery.
To put it in concrete numbers, the state of the art in coaching experience and research literature suggests that you should maybe only do up to about 90 minutes per day of conscious Japanese “study” — pedalling. And this 90 minutes should not be all in one block. Instead, you have dozens of tiny “SRS sprints” spaced out throughout your day. The rest of the time, just chill, just coast. Do Japanese, but in a chill way. Kick back. Catch some ‘toons. Let it wash over you. Pretend you’re at the beach and Japanese is the sun and the sea or something… Now, how does timeboxing fit into all this energy business? Well, what I’ve been doing is having incredibly short, incredibly intense timeboxes, punctuated by very long breaks. My breaks are now at least twice as long as my timeboxes (and sometimes five, ten or even a hundred times longer), even when the timebox itself is only 60~120 seconds long. So I’ll have:
- A 90-second timebox followed by a 60-minute break.
- Or I’ll have a 1-2-3-4-minute incremental timebox, followed by a 50+-minute break (meaning that, yes, I”ll only work 10 minutes/hour [1+2+3+4=10]…but boy will I work).
That kind of work-rest ratio may seem preposterous to you, but it’s:
- Highly sustainable — the golden goose of focus stays live — and
- Highly productive, no doubt because of Pareto/Parkinsonian side-effects — if I can only work so long, I’m forced to do only important work, and to work quickly and efficiently. There is no room for waste.
Anyhoo, that’s all from me today. I’ve only scratched the surface of this stuff, so feel free to check out more of it on your own. You’re sure to find some life-changing hints and ideas:
- Fuller story here, book here. ↩
- Sprinters dramatically raised their performance by sleeping 10+ hours/night for 6 weeks straight.
- 運動効果アップに睡眠が効く？ : ライフハッカー［日本版］
- 【スポーツ科學／睡眠／時差対策】睡眠とハイパフォーマンスとの関係 – 築波大學スポーツ醫學・向井直樹のブログ – Yahoo!ブログ
- 長 ～ い睡眠はスポーツ選手の成績を向上させる
- 運動効果アップに睡眠が効く？(ライフハッカー[日本版]) – livedoor ニュース
- Michael Gervais, Ph.D.: Sleep And High Performance: What Olympic Athletes Know About Sleep.
- cheri mah スタンフォード – Google 検索