When I discovered I could double my productivity, I felt like I struck gold.

And no, that's not an exaggeration ...  I actually wrote this article in half the time it'd usually take. All because of this simple experiment I ran: 

I charged my laptop to 100%, went to a coffee shop, but left my charger at home. Then I raced against my laptop's battery, trying to finish the designated project (ex. write this article) before my battery reached 0%

It was insanely effective. I moved at lightning speed. I cannot suggest it enough if you're in a pinch to get a project done in a small window of time.

Below is the exact process on how to use this productivity hack, which I call The Dead Battery Sprint, to finish a project in half the time.  

Exclusive Bonus: Download the step-by-step template (for either Google Docs or Evernote) to easily create your own Dead Battery Sprint within seconds. 

Dead Battery Sprint for Google Docs

Dead Battery Sprint for Evernote

Step 1: Plan a project you’ll finish before your battery hits 0% 

First, I picked a large project (“finish this article”) to complete before my battery died.

Then I subdivided it into smaller goals, splitting them between five stages of my battery’s life (ex. 100% to 80%, 80% to 60%, 60% to 40%, etc):


Thus, I now had milestones for each stage. For example, when I hit 60% battery, I knew I should be starting to write my first draft. By the time I hit 40%, I should have my first draft finished. These milestones kept me on an organized schedule. 

Then I compared my actual progress (in the column labeled "Reality") against my goals. Each "Reality" column has a question mark because this was my Dead Battery Sprint when I was just starting. 

So did I finish everything I planned to before my battery ran out? Find out in the third step, where I share my results.  

Pro Tip: Check your "time remaining" when battery is at 100%

To find the "time remaining" on your laptop's battery, click the battery icon in the upper right-hand corner: 


This will help you create realistic smaller goals, because you'll understand how long your battery runs on a full charge.  

Step 2: Go to an isolated location with Wi-Fi and a fully-charged laptop (but no charger)

I went to a Starbucks, but a conference room works, too. Choose anywhere you won’t be disrupted for a few hours, but you still have Wi-Fi access.

The key here is DON’T bring your charger! 


Sneaking the charger into your bag and pretending it’s not there doesn’t work. You will use it. Don't bring it. 

The point is to leave it at home or the office, which makes it annoying to have to get it. This forces you to move quick and not screw around.

Because you’re not racing against the clock, (such as the Pomodoro Technique) which continues to tick. You’re racing against the life of your computer, which will die.

Step 3: Compare actual results to the plan

After each battery stage is over, write down what you actually accomplished versus what you planned. For example, when my battery hit 80%, I quickly summarized what I did in that stage ("created master list of main points; started outline"). 

From my results, you can see my reality was slightly skewed from my goals: 


As illustrated above, my schedule was a little more haphazard than I planned. 

From an outsiders perspective, you might be thinking ... wait, um so you didn't finish the article? Nope. But I moved very, very fast throughout the entire process.

Primarily because I knew my computer was going to die and I didn't want to have to go back to get my charger ... unless I had a nearly finished article. I finished the article shortly after my computer died. 

But keep this in mind - when speed bumps happen and you fall behind, use it as leverage to catch up to your goal. 

When I started at 100%, all I knew was I wanted to write SOMETHING about racing against my laptop's battery. So I started brainstorming and came up with an outline. Then I hit a speed bump - I thought of a completely new layout for the article (visualizing the battery in five stages, formatted in a 1-2-3 step process) after I already finished my first outline.

Although this put me a little behind schedule, it forced me to move fast to play catch-up. I was then typing at lightning-speed, completely focused, through my first and second draft.

Thus, the biggest perk of a Dead Battery Sprint is simple — automated concentration.

Your laptop will die. And since you have to travel home to revitalize it, it’s annoying. This automatically pressures you to concentrate. 

You don’t have to try and concentrate. You’re forced into it.

I didn't get bogged down by email, because I didn't check it. I didn't take breaks on social media, because I never felt the urge. Understanding my battery will die was motivation in itself to stay focused, forcing me to avoid any potential distractions.  

But here's the thing - the Dead Battery Sprint works for any task:

  • Have new prospects to generate? Set a goal to generate 300 new prospects before the Dead Battery Sprint is over. 
  • Leads to nurture? Isolate yourself from distractions and focus on stricly nurturing leads.
  • Employees to hire? Set aside 200 applications to filter through, organize, and follow up with. 
  • Annual employee review reports to submit? Try to finish ALL of them before your battery runs out. 
  • SlideShare/PowerPoint presentation to finish? See if you can do it before she hits 0%. 

The examples are endless. The point is, it works. The Dead Battery Sprint will help you completely finish a huge project in half the time. 

Try the Dead Battery Sprint template (for Google Docs or Evernote) to see just how well it works. 

Dead Battery Sprint for Google Docs

Dead Battery Sprint for Evernote

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Originally published Apr 18, 2015 8:47:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Sales Productivity Hacks