By Karen Axelton

Recently at a party I was talking to a fellow entrepreneur about our shared goal: Figure out how to do more, but work a shorter day. If you’d like to do that, too, you’ll be interested in what Matthew E. May has to say about making the most of our work time.

“We aren’t designed to operate like computers—at high speeds, continuously, running multiple programs at the same time—but we do,” May writes on OPEN Forum. “The consequence is that we’re increasingly distracted, exhausted and demoralized.” Sound familiar?

May shares what he learned from Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project. Schwartz had been a successful author for a long time. His typical method: Write for 10 to 12 hours straight. With this kind of dedication, he was able to finish each book in less than a year.

But when Schwartz started his most recent book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, he tried something different. He used a “pulse” method–working nonstop for three 90 minute periods, with a break between each period. (His first break was for breakfast, his second was to go running and his third was for lunch.) Using this method, Schwartz finished his book in under six months—and did it without ever working past lunch.

Schwartz based his system on research that shows that our bodies naturally go through 90-minute energy cycles throughout the day. Setting aside time to re-energize at the end of each cycle enabled him to get more done.

After reading this, I was sold that Schwartz is on to something. Want to know more about how you could do something similar? In his post, May shares Schwartz’s 10 tips for maximizing your productivity. (One that might surprise you: “Make sleep your highest priority.”) Check out the other 9 at OPEN Forum.