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The 8 week cycle

About two years ago I started reminiscing about my youth and particularly the 6 weeks of vacation that most Aussies of my generation got to enjoy at the end of every year starting mid December and going to the end of January. Surfing in the morning, motorbike riding in the afternoon, camp fire steak and salad, some cards and a really great sleep.

The wonderful thing about this was the way you can really change gears… get out of the rut of the work cycle and get a chance to look at things a-fresh…

These happy thoughts came to me after a particularly intense 6 months at work. This memory combined with a natural awareness of my own biorhythms (self awareness of waves of emotional, mental and physical highs and lows) gave me the impetus to explore a work cycle engineered to have its own peak and lull.

In some ways its similar to the quarterly peak and lull of a corporate calendar, but in this case the cycle is geared towards your own particular cycle, not a companies mandated cycle… over the years I have found that I can concentrate on a project for a maximum effective period of 6 weeks… roughly a week to get up to speed, a month to solve the problem and a week or two to package it up and finalize it. Longer projects need to be broken down and shorter projects can fit around the core cycle projects. Then in the remaining 1 to 2 weeks of the cycle the idea is to change gears… go on holidays or do something different to come back to the next cycle refreshed, energized and ready to go.

The big advantage to this I have found is that it helps you know when to make a big push to make something happen… when you set a 6 week deadline for yourself, you know when to escalate. When to really push if things are not happening… and to know that you don’t have to live with this level of tension and intensity for more than a week or two. This is especially true for my line of work where the deadlines are nearly always artificial and self determined.

In practice the holiday weeks only result in actual time away every two or three cycles (4 or 6 months) but the weeks are still used for slow time or to work on more fun non essential projects. For those two weeks family becomes the priority and having a nice lunch every other day can be a nice reward for a successful cycle and preparation for the next upcoming cycle. The important thing is to change gears, read a book, look into something new. All this makes me want to stop writing this article and start planning my next cycle…
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