Have you ever had a shower thought where everything starts to suddenly make sense? I’ve been having these more and more often when I’m relaxing, exercising, or even showering. I wondered how I could optimally get in the state where my subconscious would do all the work for me, and I’m sharing that with you today.
The first thing is you have to be aware of two concepts:
- Focus Mode – A direct approach to solving problems using rational, sequential, analytical approaches. Usually associated with concentration activities.
- Diffused Mode – A relaxed approach to solving problems letting your mind wander. Usually associated with relaxing activities.
You’ll hear these words used in many different ways such as “Hyperfocus/Scatterfocus”, “Fast Brain, Slow Mind”, and many more.
There’s a special magic to the amount of time that you spend in each mode. That number is 90 minutes of focus & 15 minutes of relaxation for every hour of focus. Some may say that this is because our mental energy comes in 90 minute waves, or that our sleep cycles average around 90 minutes.
This number can even be broken down into famous concepts such as “The Pomodoro Technique” which suggests you should work in 25 minute increments with 5 minute breaks.
From a high level, you can even structure your whole days around this concept. Here’s one that I typically use:
- Morning Stuff
- Deep Work (4 hours)
- Social Media (10 minutes)
- Reading (20 minutes)
- Exercise (30 minutes)
- Deep Work (4 hours)
- Food (1 hour)
- Shallow Work (4 hours)
- Reading/Writing/Recording (1-2 hours)
- Night Stuff
For the two deep work sessions, your best case is 2 1/2 long focus sessions or 8 pomodoros. The reality is that you average typically 1 long focus session or maybe 4 pomodoros if you’re lucky. The more important part here is the amount of relaxation around the deep work. There’s an hour break between each 4 hour timeblock, and once the two sessions are done, you’re allowed to go into shallow work mode which is more diffused type work doing research or things you’re especially passionate about (which never feels like work).
The point is, although you may dedicate a significant amount of time to focus in a day, you have to protect the amount of time you relax in a day. I’ve personally felt that the more I protect & make relaxation a priority in my day, the more productive I ultimately am.
Doing this makes these deep work sessions extremely productive because you’ve spent enough diffused time to work through the problems and the only thing you really have to do at this point is work.