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About Everything Wiki » Work and Study » The three o'clock rule: how to plan a working day in order to have more time

The three o'clock rule: how to plan a working day in order to have more time

09 Jun 2023, 00:01, parser
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Most time management strategies are not universal ‑ they are suitable for one person, but completely useless for another. Oliver Berkman, a time planner and author of the book "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals", is sure The three‑or‑four‑hours rule for getting creative work done / Oliver Burkeman : there is one rule that will be effective for anyone.

This is the rule of three hours.

Set aside three hours each day for complex or creative tasks. First, put such things in the schedule , and fill the rest of the time with classes that require less effort.

How does the three-hour rule work

A person is able to do work that requires maximum mental effort and concentration, no longer than three to four hours a day. The same law applies to creative pursuits.

Therefore, when planning a schedule for the day, it is worth starting with the most difficult tasks. Not from those cases that seem unpleasant to you, but will not take away much energy. And with projects that require serious efforts. Usually you plunge into such things with your head, worry a lot if something doesn't work out, and rejoice when you see your success .

It is not always possible to allocate three hours in a row in the schedule for such cases. And it is not necessary — the brain will get tired and require rest. Try to mark two periods of an hour and a half in the schedule with a break between them, which will allow you to regain strength. It is important not to divide the time of active work into many small intervals, because you will not have time to fully immerse yourself in the task every time.

Here's what to do in the most productive period:

  • Think about the task, plan.
  • Actively write, draw, make up, draw diagrams, analyze information and draw conclusions — in a word, do your main job.

It may be difficult for you at first to work with maximum effort for three whole hours, even with a break. You will want to distract yourself, drink coffee, check your email and social networks. You shouldn't do that. By focusing on the case, you train your brain and learn not to lose concentration. Over time, you will get rid of the desire to be distracted — all the allocated time you will be passionate about work.

Perhaps three hours a day will not be enough for you. Therefore, it is worth releasing another one in your schedule — a spare one. But only one.

If you devote three or four hours to the main task every day and do not allow yourself to be distracted, you will be able to complete more tasks than with the standard eight‑hour planning.

The remaining time can be filled with easier tasks for you.

Why you shouldn't spend more time on important tasks

Our limit of attention and efficiency is four hours a day. Already at the fifth hour, concentration drops, attention dissipates. It will be harder for you to keep all the details in mind, you will involuntarily start to get distracted or just "hang out". The number of errors will increase at the same time.

Each of us can strain and work for a day or two, or even a week, plunging into the task for 5-6 hours. There are circumstances when it will not work otherwise — urgent or long-accumulated cases force you to find reserves. But you can't work in this mode for a long time, and even more so constantly. Efficiency will start to fall, and you will spend more time on the same tasks. The next stage will be emotional and physical burnout.

As experience shows, three to four hours is the optimal period to immerse yourself in the task, to make maximum effort to complete it, but not to overwork.

According to this principle, was built The three‑or‑four‑hours rule for getting creative work done / Oliver Burkeman many famous scientists have their working day. Charles Darwin, the author of works on natural selection and the origin of man, sat down to work three times a day. Two stages lasted for an hour and a half, the third — an hour. Henri Poincare, a French physicist and mathematician, worked in two sets of two hours a day. Maybe it was this kind of routine that helped these people to remain productive for a long time.

Why is it difficult to apply the three-hour rule

At first it may seem to you that you are just lazy. That you can add one or two or three more profile tasks to the work schedule. For example, take up the following illustration, write a plan for another presentation, listen to the materials of a new professional conference.

This is a trick of our psyche: we are used to having to run all the time, hurry, strive to overtake someone. Otherwise, we will not have time, we will fall behind and lose. So, we will rest when we are completely exhausted.

Oliver Berkman calls this condition pathological productivity. And he advises specifically to develop an important skill: after three or four hours of work on a serious task, switch to simpler things. You will return to the difficult ones again the next day when you regain your strength. If you don't have time for something today, you will finish it tomorrow, and you will cope with it faster.

Oliver Berkman
British journalist and writer, author of the book "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals".

Give up the illusion that if you manage to squeeze in a little more work, you will finally reach the status of "I have everything under control, and I'm on top." A truly valuable skill is not the ability to make more effort, but the ability to stop working in time and regain strength.

What to do in the remaining hours

Most of us have an active working day that lasts not three or four hours, but twice as long. Bennett Garner, author of book "50 Tweaks to Change Your Life", advises 3‑hour rule: How much to work per day / Developer Purpose fill the rest of the time with tasks that also need to be completed, but they will not require excessive effort.

During these hours you can:

  • Read messages in messengers and respond to them.
  • Parse the email.
  • Schedule calls and meetings and hold them.
  • Make a schedule for the following days and clarify the plan by the end of the month.
  • Search for information for further tasks.
  • Put things in order on the desktop, sort completed and current projects into folders, delete unnecessary files.

How to apply the three-hour rule

It is possible to facilitate the planning process. To do this, first divide all work cases into two columns in advance:

  1. The main projects are those that you will perform in three hours.
  2. Additional tasks are those that will be outside the three-hour period.

When you make a work schedule, first select the cases from the first list and schedule time for them. In the remaining hours, take up the tasks of the second category. They can be easily replaced or moved in the daily schedule. And some of them can be safely postponed to the next week or the next month.

The main advantage of the three-hour method: having completed the main task for the day, you will know for sure that you have made serious progress.

This will help you not to worry if you did not have time to do something from the additional list.

Over time, you will see that this tactic allows you to complete all priority tasks on time. You will make sure that you keep the most important things under control, while avoiding overexertion and burnout.

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