A month ago, I started cross-fit training. Among other things, this includes two days of week of circuit training.
Circuit training is a simple concept. You spend seven to eight minutes in intense exercises that works pretty much every muscle in your body, without any break and then you break for a minute or two. And you repeat this cycle four or five times in the span of an hour.
This is an extremely efficient way for getting your body in shape.
I follow a similar principle in the work that I do - be it write a blog post, or work on a book, or analyse the data for my products, or write product specifications and hypotheses to be tested out. A period of intense and focused work followed by a brief period of rest.
The point of taking a break during circuit training is to let the muscles that have been working hard, relax and recover. But only enough. As my trainer tells me, "rest as much as you need as little as possible." This means that she wants me to rest as much as I need to recover but nothing more than that. The moment I have hit that recovery point, I should get straight back to another round of work.
Do this in your work and you will see incredible increase in your efficiency and productivity. You will get a lot more done in a lot less time.
This provides natural checkpoints during the day when you can do things that don't need immediate attention, like responding to email and Slack messages. Recently, I was discussing with my team on what my preferred mode of communication is. While many prefer face to face communication, I prefer emails/chat in most cases and only prefer face to face when what needs to be discussed cannot wait.
Scheduling email/chat to my downtime, I take control of how focused I can be on my work and am protected from all interruptions. And if an email or a chat needs deeper analysis and is time consuming to respond during my downtime, I automatically schedule time to do it as part of my deep work. This enables me to ensure that these downtimes are minimised to five minutes at a time at the most.
I'm trying circuit training for my body and for my mind (work), and the positive changes are visible almost right away (in just a month).
Maybe you'd like to give it a shot.