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TikTok’s ‘four quarters’ method could boost your productivity and mental health – experts explains how

Photo by Juan Vargas: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sand-glass-placed-on-desk-beside-mug-6398331/

It’s easy to fall into the ‘bad day’ trap as the morning begins.

It only takes one thing to go wrong first-thing – whether it’s forgetting a wallet, a train cancellation, or simply waking up in a bad mood – for us to see our day as a write-off for getting things done.

But a new TikTok hack could help us approach the day in a different way.

The ‘four quarters’ method has been doing the rounds on TikTok and it could help to boost productivity and mental health.

It works by breaking the day down into four separate segments – the morning (5am-9am), the late morning (10am-1pm), the afternoon (2pm-7pm) and the evening (from 7pm onwards).

The idea is that by compartmentalising the day, individuals can approach each one as a new period – rather than writing it off from the start.

So, if you didn’t get that task done first-thing, you still have three whole other segments to catch up. Similarly, if you start the day off badly, you have the other three bits to turn it around.

Joanna Konstantopoulou, health psychologist specialising in CBT, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Dividing your day into four quarters is an excellent way to avoid ruminating about a negative experience or productivity blip and so reduce negative thinking.

‘Structuring the day is especially useful for generating motivation and enthusiasm, particularly for those working from home, those suffering from depression or those who live alone and feel lonely.

‘You may even choose to go one step further and set yourself one productivity goal and one self-care goal each quarter, to sustain or improve your mental health.’

Productivity expert Barnaby Lashbrooke, the CEO Time Etc and author of The Hard Work Myth, adds that it’s worth taking into account your own productivity cycles.

He explains: ‘It’s a good idea to group tasks by type and schedule them according to your natural productivity peaks and troughs – for example, planning your workouts for the first quarter, when you’re at your most energetic, or work that requires deep focus for the afternoon when you’re at your most creative.

‘By encouraging you to think of each quarter as a new beginning, this technique can keep you feeling refreshed and motivated, helping you make the most of your day.’

But Zoë Aston, the mental health expert at Headspace, stresses that while this is all over TikTok at the moment, it’s not actually a new phenomenon.

She says: ‘The “four quarters” productivity method may be new to social media but it’s actually been around for much longer. In fact, a therapist explained to me over 15 years ago that a great way to keep life manageable is to break the day into four bits, and you can do that in whatever way works for you – you don’t have to replicate the sections on TikTok.

‘Just because one of your four things or parts of the day doesn’t go according to plan, that doesn’t mean it’s a “bad day”, it just means that part wasn’t quite as you expected.

‘When you start thinking like this it’s a bit easier to let go of the expectations you set on yourself for the full 24 hours and allows you a bit of breathing space if things don’t go according to plan.

‘Basically it means you’re more likely to be kinder to your mind.’

However, Eloise Skinner adds that it’s important to be aware of one thing.

She explains: ‘One thing to watch out for with the four quarter method is that its efficacy might decrease with repeated use: in other words, the “freshness” of the fresh start might feel less powerful if used more frequently. (One of the most powerful things about the impact of a new year is that it only happens once a year!)

‘Another element to note is that some research suggests fresh starts are most impactful when they arise from a previous period of failure. If the day is going well, and each quarter feel “successful,” the method may not feel as impactful.

‘Of course, this perception will differ between individuals.’


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