Per Unit of Time

As an extension to my last post on the Micro-Work Mindset, I thought I would discuss the broader idea of Per Unit of Time. While the Micro-Work Mindset certainly uses the Per Unit of Time concept, the concept itself has much larger, further reaching applications.

While Per Unit of Time thinking applies to Micro-Work sessions, it goes far beyond that. It asks “How much can I generate/improve/grow during block of time X?” Per Unit Time thinking makes statements such as such as “I will practice X for the next year consistently” or “I will spend the next six months focusing on my running technique.”

The main idea is that we are working on a challenge or goal over a block of time. The time blocks help structure and focus our efforts. As a personal example, I intend to practice my paragraph transition sentences over the next four weeks. I could say I will work on transitions generally, not over any structured block of time. Without the time block, however, I lose the “bin” in which I do the work, and thus the challenge loses priority. I may continue to practice transitions after the four weeks (I likely will), but the four week time frame gives me a mental block to focus those skills.

The Per Unit Time philosophy is not about deadlines. Deadlines are great for productivity, no doubt about it – they also help maintain constant focus and attention. However, Per Unit Time is more concerned with:

the exertion of effort over a span of time.

There very well may be a deadline at the end of the time block, especially if the blocks of time are smaller and represent Mirco-Work tasks (i.e. “how many equations can I write in the next 30 minutes?”). But when extending out goals/achievements/tasks for longer periods (weeks, months, yes even years), the focus shifts from “How much of X can I complete by Y?” to “How often can I practice during the span of time ending in Y?”. It is a shift from what I will have achieved in that time period to how often or hard I will practice during that period.

As a prime example of the difference, look at weight loss. Most people will say “I want to lose X pounds by the end of the month.”. This is a great goal and one that is certainly achievable. But Per Unit of Time suggests we restate our goal – “How often can I exercise by the end of the month?”

The moral of the story: put a time block, regardless of how long, over the next challenge you have for yourself. Then, ask yourself how often you can practice that challenge given the block of time.

Happy Working,


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