Self-Care Challenge (Day 169): Working in “Bursts”

a laptop in the grassAt the end of each day, I love looking back on what I’ve accomplished.

Celebrating even the smallest of successes motivates me to continue working toward my goals.

But recently I’ve noticed that there are days when I accomplish more than others, and I wanted to understand why that is. 

It seems that when I concentrate my efforts on a single task, taking only a few breaks throughout the day, I accomplish much less than when I shift gears periodically, working on a number of things.

I’ve learned that working on several of my goals every day produces results that are exponentially better. 

This frequent shifting of gears–which my husband calls “bursts”–seems to maximize my productivity.

As my self-care practice for the day, I worked in these so-called bursts, taking several breaks to recharge my batteries and refocus my efforts on a new task.

Similar to the Pomodoro technique, where writers write in 25-minute increments, the burst approach consists of a series of time-based tasks. I’ll do laundry for 15 minutes, take a 30-minute walk, write for 30 minutes, call and make a doctor’s appointment…you get the jist. 

Working in bursts is not synonymous with multi-tasking, though. The latter approach, while quite popular, and even glorified in most corporate environments, isn’t effective or efficient. In fact, research has shown that multi-tasking may actually have a negative impact on performance. 

While it’s not always possible to use the burst approach (looming deadlines and organizational priorities often dictate how we spend our time) this style is most effective when you have at least some control over your daily routines, and being able to set boundaries certainly helps. 

Scheduling work periods in chunks creates the needed space to complete tasks without interruption, and taking regular breaks helps restore balance.

I’ve learned that working in bursts allows me to accomplish much more than I would otherwise, and that also means I get to celebrate more successes at the end of each day. 

What’s your working style?

Stacy Fisher-Gunn
Stacy Fisher-Gunn

I'm a Self-Care Coach, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Author, and Founder of Living Upp. This community is a reflection of my desire to create an inspiring gathering place for people who want to explore self-care and live up to their fullest potential.

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