How to gain more time in business

Gain more time: Optimal 52/17 Work/Rest

Travis Bradberry showed me how to control and gain more time.

In the last month, the plea for more time became a mantra. I was trying to erratically sprint the end of year, marathon length, obstacle course.

New Year’s Eve was the immovable finish line and the looming deadline.

Dr Travis Bradberry’s article, “The Perfect Amount of Time to Work Each Day”, inspired me to become a human guinea pig and test whether I could control time, and thereby gain more time…Time that was fast running away from me!

Guru and co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Bradberry regularly shares articles, but this time I was desperate enough to fully embrace the strategy outlined, that:

The ideal work-to-break ratio is 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest

Christmas was looming and I needed every advantage I could get to complete the myriad of tasks and jobs for clients and my own businesses. This was on top of the social calendar that was in overdrive for the holiday festivities.

Most entrepreneurs can relate to this feeling of being overwhelmingly busy; that no matter how much work we get through, more work appears, and this isn’t just at Christmas time!

Gain more time - pocket Watch52 minutes doesn’t sound very long and 17 minutes sounds like a really long break when you are trying to accomplish so much with fast approaching deadlines.

Something had to change and Bradberry’s article suggested the solution, so I decided to test it out. I needed to gain more time.

Below are my findings and surprisingly, productivity wasn’t the only, or even the best, result!

52 Minutes On:

  1. Use a timer – having a loud and irritating reminder that the time was up was necessary. It was too easy otherwise to keep working and not realise 52 minutes had morphed into 124 minutes, but I swear it felt like 5 minutes!
  2. Distance the timer – placing the timer on the other side of the room was important because I would switch it off if it was right next to me. “I’ll just finish this…” was the thought that prevailed, regularly and unfailingly.
  3. Swear at the timer – it is amazing how often I was on a roll, in the middle of a breakthrough thought or grasping a complicated concept, when the timer sounded. Yes, I cursed at an inanimate object that was just doing the job I set it.
  4. Throw out the timer – once I was in the swing of walking away from my desk and having a real break (see below for what I mean by that), I started recognising that my mind naturally had its own timer. I would naturally wind-down mentally between 45-75 minutes. Thankfully, the timer was put away and when I was on a roll, I could stay on the roll without artifical interruptions.
  5. Stay Mindful – starting the morning with a list of jobs or tasks I wanted to complete that day, not only kept me on track, it increased productivity. I found I could finish a lot of the jobs within the 52-minute “on-phase”. This was because I was focused and knew there was a 52-minute deadline. It is incredible how you can stretch out a job, especially one you don’t like doing. You’ll take all the time and fill it with distractions, looking at Instagram, emails, coffee breaks or other ‘quick’ jobs.


17 Minutes Off:

  1. Fridges are Evil – it’s amazing how often I found myself gazing into the fridge during the 17-minute break. Working from a home office, the fridge can be a dangerous, but very accessible boredom, frustration or stress crutch. WARNING: do not use the fridge as a break or a crutch! You’re jeans and scales will thank you.
  2. Move & Groove – in a home office this was a lot easier to do without people looking at me strangely as I would do some stretches or groove to Cat Empire. It was also a great way to avoid the fridge’s magnetic pull.
  3. Use it or Lose it – I noticed I achieved a lot in the ‘break time’. Working from home you can find your day disappears in domestic duties if you aren’t careful or guilt can take up emotional and mental space if you don’t keep the house clean etc. Having 17 minutes, means you can easily complete over an hour of chores a day, without feeling you should be spending that time on your business or work.
  4. Human Contact – this was a big change as I found it was almost like having a hall pass to talk with friends and family! When you are so focused on your business, you feel like every minute away from it is a distraction, time you could have spent more ‘productively’. It isn’t, that’s a fallacy and it’s not a healthy way to run your business. You are more than a business. You are a whole being that needs satisfaction from different inputs and outputs. WARNING: that doesn’t mean you can sit on the phone to your mum or best friend and talk for an hour!
  5. Relax & Meditate – break-time wasn’t all about productivity and my domestic to-do list. Focus became sharper and ideas developed more when I would stand outside in the sunshine or lie down on a yoga mat for 17 minutes. Just being still and present, clearing my mind and not thinking about work, tasks, clients, jobs, productivity or to-do lists, helped me switch back on after the break. My mind wasn’t buzzing with all the noise of busyness. WARNING: don’t lie down on the bed, because 17 minutes could easily become an hour long nap!


Revelations from my time control experiment:Small Gold Pocket watch

  1. Be attentive to the timer in the beginning, but learn to listen to your body and sub-conscience. It knows what is right for you, before you are even aware of it.
  2. We can control time when we are in control of ourselves and our focus, because we are in tune with what our minds and bodies are telling us.
  3. You need to be your own guinea pig and test out the 52/17 optimal switch. There is nothing to lose and so much to gain.
  4. Eliminate time wastage of perceived busyness and attend to what truly needs doing and be in control of your actions.
  5. Productivity isn’t the end goal but it is just one of the numerous benefits you will discover, including focus, stress relief, connectivity and calm.

I can’t believe I just wrote a post with three lists in it, but I hope it helps you gain more time in business and life.

You should be able to move into the new year as a healthier and happier person by discovering your optimal 52/17 minute work day.

Have you ever turned yourself into a human guinea pig to test out a theory? I would love to hear what you discovered. Or if you are still struggling, please contact me. I’m happy to share some more tried and true solutions I’ve found that work for us small business owners, so we can gain more time.

Wishing you all the best.


Rebecca Collett, Founder of Snowed Under Solutions

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