Time Blocking: Why you should work in 30-min or 1-hour increments instead of hours-long sessions



Dec 5, 2023

Time Blocking: Why you should work in 30-min or 1-hour increments instead of hours-long sessions

Ultradian Rhythms and Timers: Unlocking the Secrets of Productivity

Welcome to Moonlight's latest exploration into the science of productivity. At Moonlight, we're dedicated to aiding your pursuit of peak performance, be it in writing a novel or debugging a challenging piece of code. Today, we delve into the science of ultradian rhythms, the Pomodoro technique, and the importance of breaks. All in service of our mission: to help you find flow and maintain it. Let's begin.

1. Ultradian Rhythms

1.1. What is it?

Ultradian rhythms are, in essence, biological oscillations in our body that happen several times a day. While you might be more familiar with the circadian rhythm, which aligns with a 24-hour day-night cycle, ultradian rhythms occur within that larger frame and can vary in length.

1.2. Science Behind It

Derived from our circadian rhythm, these rhythms govern various physiological and cognitive functions, from hormone release to attention spans. The science suggests that understanding and harnessing these rhythms can significantly boost productivity.

1.3. How to Use It


  1. Observe Your Natural Peaks and Troughs: Start by observing when you naturally feel most alert and when you feel sluggish. Adjust your tasks accordingly.
  2. Adapt Tasks to Your Rhythms: Schedule demanding tasks during your peaks and less intensive tasks during your troughs.
  3. Consistent Sleep Patterns: Ensure you have a consistent sleep schedule, which can help stabilize and predict your ultradian rhythms better.

2. Science-backed Time Blocking Techniques

What is time blocking:

Time blocking is a time management technique used to increase productivity and efficiency. In this method, specific blocks of time are "reserved" or "allocated" for specific activities throughout the day. Instead of working periodically with an open-ended to-do list, individuals schedule chunks of time in which they fully commit to focusing on a given task.

Pomodoro Technique:

This technique suggests working with focus for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Studies found that the Pomodoro Technique results in more efficiency, reduced fatigue, and better concentration.

Other Timing Techniques:

  • 52/17 and 112/26 by DeskTime: By tracking the "most productive users," a study found that these are work/break timings were associated with the most productive users. 52 minutes of work are followed by a 17 minutes long break, and 112 minutes of work are followed by a 26 minutes long break
  • Task-Based Timers: Rather than setting a time, some prefer to work until a specific task is complete, taking breaks between tasks.
  • Time of day: Circadian rhythms can influence attention. Components of attention have a specific time course throughout the day. Understanding one's chronotype can guide optimal work hours. Learn more about your chronotype here [article link here].

4. Importance of Breaks

Well-timed breaks can ensure that we're consistently operating at our cognitive best, rather than pushing through periods of reduced focus and effectiveness.

What you do during your breaks is crucial. For a deep dive into maximizing your break productivity, [break blog] to see our detailed post on the topic.


Harness the power of understanding your body's natural rhythms and time management techniques to enhance productivity. Dive deep into Moonlight Focus, and elevate your work, study, or any task you set out to complete. Embrace the flow today.


The content provided in this blog post is intended solely for informational and educational purposes. It is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

5. References

We at Moonlight pride ourselves on presenting information rooted in science and derived from peer-reviewed journals. This post's insights come from such reputable sources, ensuring accuracy and credibility. It's worth noting that while our content is based on scientific evidence, it should not be a substitute for medical advice or a visit to a physician.

  • Schmidt, C., Collette, F., Cajochen, C., & Peigneux, P. (2007). A time to think: circadian rhythms in human cognition. Cognitive neuropsychology, 24(7), 755–789. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643290701754158
  • Dikker, S., Haegens, S., Bevilacqua, D., Davidesco, I., Wan, L., Kaggen, L., McClintock, J., Chaloner, K., Ding, M., West, T., & Poeppel, D. (2020). Morning brain: real-world neural evidence that high school class times matter. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 15(11), 1193–1202. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsaa142
  • Evans, M. D. R., Kelley, P., & Kelley, J. (2017). Identifying the Best Times for Cognitive Functioning Using New Methods: Matching University Times to Undergraduate Chronotypes. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 11, 188. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00188
  • Valdez P. (2019). Circadian Rhythms in Attention. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 92(1), 81–92.
  • Biwer, F., Wiradhany, W., oude Egbrink, M. G. A., & de Bruin, A. B. H. (2023). Understanding effort regulation: Comparing “Pomodoro” breaks and self‐regulated breaks. British Journal of Educational Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12593

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