I have no evidence or further reading to support any of the claims in this article, but it’s interesting.
Basically, it argues: work for 90 minutes or less, then take a break. Then repeat.
I’m personally of the opinion that no meeting or class should be longer than an hour. After that, we start to get stupid. More importantly, an hour time limit forces you to focus and get shit done in a reasonable, structured way. No time to waste babbling on about rubbish.
I’ve used this approach in planning dance workshops weekends. I don’t let classes run any longer than 1 hour and 15 minutes, and I insist on a rest (of at least 15 minutes) between sessions. That rest has to include changing tasks – you’re not allowed to practice or film or whatevs. You have to eat or sit down or talk or go to the toilet. Doesn’t matter what it is, you’ve just got to change tasks.
This can be challenging if you’re teaching: when you’re in the zone, any break feels like an interruption that might ‘break’ the zone. But it’s really better to take that break, reset and come back in fresh.
When I’m writing, I usually sit down and write solidly for hours at a time. I forget to go to the toilet. I don’t eat. This is how I got my PhD done. But that sort of obsessive work isn’t helpful. Even if you do really enjoy that feeling of being in the zone, with the rest of the world blocked out.
I’m also of the opinion that a dance practice session shouldn’t be any longer than 90 minutes. And, unsurprisingly, I guess, I find 90 minutes is my optimal DJing set length. I can and have gone longer, but I find I get in, do good work, then come out a winner if I keep it to 90 minutes. A ten minute break in the middle… now, that would be good.