Balance Goals & Planning

Ten practices to support you in doing your best work – part 3

Practice number 3 we talked about the concept of Good Enough as a tool to battle perfectionism and practice 4 addressed using the time management skill of Beat the Clock to support Good Enough. Our next practice is about Waves. The world around us ebbs and flows. You would be very hard pressed to find anything that remains constant and static, and we are no different. 

Our brains and bodies work in rhythms. We are physically designed to work best by cycling between periods of energy spending and renewing.

Fact: “Research in the 1970s showed that 90 to 120 minute ultradian rhythms (ulta dies – many times a day) account for the ebb and flow of our energy throughout the day. Physiological measures such as heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension and brain-wave activity all increase during the first part of the cycle. After an hour or so, these measures start to decline and the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery. Signals include a desire to yawn and stretch, hunger pangs, increased tension, an inclination to procrastinate.” – The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

Fact: Your brain can only operate at peak capacity for periods of up to 90 minutes.
“Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.” –, Tony Schwartz

Work intensively for up to 90 minutes at a time with brief ten minute periods of recuperation to walk around the office, stretch, or fill a glass of water. Notice the impact of this practice on the quality and effectiveness of your output.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.