After a lot of research and some earnest experimentation myself, I can now offer a more scientifically validated time management technique which anyone can easily implement.
I have named this revolutionary system 'That's Un Oeuf!' (TM).
The 'That's Un Oeuf!' system is guaranteed to boost your productivity and increase your wellbeing through the simple expedient of a kitchen timer shaped like an egg.
1. Buy your Oeuf-shaped kitchen timer. It MUST be shaped like an egg to have any effect.
2. Have a clear objective for this particular Un Oeuf. Be clear what you want to achieve.
3. Set the timer for precisely 22 minutes. Start working through your Un Oeuf.
4. If you become distracted, simply notice that distraction and bring your attention self back to the present moment and to your objective.
5. Once the timer sounds, GET UP AND WALK AWAY. It is critical to move at this point. Get a cup of tea, do 2-3 minutes of cleaning, tidy something, do 10 press ups, walk to the printer. Whatever.
6. Repeat in blocks of up to 4 Un Oeufs.
After this, take a more extended break, moving around, doing e-mail etc. I often do household chores in this period if I'm working from home or I go and have a chat with someone if I'm in the office.
I recommend doing 12 Un Ooeufs a day, and the rest of the time should be doing e-mail or calls, meetings and more relaxed or creative tasks.
The science behind this approach is overwhelming, but if you want some primary sources here goes:
- The myth of multitasking - read Brain Rules by John Medina
- Distraction and wellbeing - read Gilbert and Killingsworth, 2010
- Mckinsey Quarterly January 2011
- The need to move - listen to this on the BBC World Service
- The average length of human attention span
But for now, That really is Un Oeuf.