50-50-30: How to be More Productive with 3 Magic Numbers

timemanagementToday I’m going to be blunt and make a bold statement:

There is no such thing as “time management”!

The concept of time management is a myth.

We all have the same 24 hours every day in our lives, and we can’t change that…no matter what we do.

So, the idea of managing time is flawed.

What we really need to do to be more productive is to manage OURSELVES, so that we can focus our energy and do highly productive work on our biggest priorities.

So, how can we manage ourselves?

To answer this, we must first understand how we’re wired biologically…

We as human beings have 3 different brains inside our heads…which for simplicity we can refer to as the emotional brain, the mental brain, and the physical brain.

The problem is that each brain operates individually and is not really connected with our other brains, so we struggle to align them and focus our energy on a single task.

In other words, you might have homework to do for tomorrow, but you can’t make yourself do it…because you’re thinking about and wanting to be with the person you connected emotionally with last Saturday.

Or, you have a lot of work to do, but you can’t do it properly because you’re starting to feel hungry, your neck hurts and you feel tired.

Get it?

Your brain, body and emotions need to be tuned so that you can work without “friction”.

You need to nourish them all, so that you can use them to do effective and highly focused work, but you also need to be able to let them rest and renew.

More than just nourishing them, there are key solutions to solve the problem of “friction”…

The solutions involve developing systems and habits that allow us to do highly focused and uninterrupted work in a state of “flow”…

Flow: a state where there is no friction between our three brains, no distractions and where we are able to focus our energy on a single task until completion.

When we learn to get into the “flow state”, we dramatically increase our productivity.

We accomplish our tasks in half of the time, and we ENJOY the process!

Would you be interested in learning how to do that?

If that’s so, great! You’re in luck because I’d like to share with you how to be more productive by setting up systems and habits in your day that will allow you to skyrocket your output at work.

Build your day with what I call the 50- 50-30 structure

1. When you begin your workday, schedule 50 minutes of uninterrupted and single-minded, focused work on a project, problem or activity, and then rest for 10 minutes.

(You can even use a timer so that you’re not thinking about when the 50 minutes are up.) Once the 50 minutes are over, disconnect completely from what you were doing.

2. During these next 10 minutes, completely stop what you were working on. Close your office door, get off of the internet, turn off your phone and eliminate any other distraction you can think of.

Go for a quick walk, stretch, talk to someone that makes you feel good, read or do anything else that takes your focus away from your previous activity.

3. After the 10 minute break, go back and repeat the cycle.

Return to your uninterrupted focus on your task for another 50 minutes. NO EXCUSES.

4. When those second 50 minutes are up, take 30 minutes off.

This time you are not only going to be disconnected from your activity, but you’ll also drink ½ liter of water and have a small and healthy snack that will give your body the energy that it needs to function properly.

5. Once the 30 minutes of break are done, go back and repeat the cycle 2 more times during your work day.

(If you feel like it, you can even nap in the second 30-minute break…)

By working in cycles, you will become much more productive.

You’ll be giving your mind, body and emotions enough time to rest, renew and energize so that when you actually do the work, you will be your optimal self to work in that great state of flow.

Try it during your next work phase and let me know how it goes in the comments below!


About the Author

Mauricio-CircleMauricio Brito, a member of The Feel Good Team, lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where after 6 years as an executive at Citibank, he is starting a new path as an online entrepreneur.  Mauricio helps enable executives who are unhappy or unfulfilled with their jobs to grow, take the leap, start a business and achieve freedom.

On The Feel Good Team, Mauricio helps out in whatever way he can, from analytics to web management and more!

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  • Studies have shown that the brain can keep its focus for about 45 minutes (for most people). What’s cool with using a timer is that it also makes the brain get even more focused for the last couple of minutes as it’s anticipating the upcoming break. That way we get a bonus boost of concentration near the end of each working session.

    Great stuff, Mauricio. I’ve been doing something similar myself but I’ll definitely try this approach with a longer third break for refueling. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Great twist there Mauricio! Thinking about time from the perspective of oneself and not from the perspective of the time itself is a great way to think about this stuff.

    However I don’t think that 50mins of work is a magic number. As someone who has ADHD even 30mins of focused work is a torture to me. I think we should experiment with the numbers. Start small and then increase until we find our limits.

  • Hey Patrick and Nikola!!

    Thank you for your comments and feedback!! I really appreciate that you have found the information valuable.

    The timer allow us to free our mind when doing focused work until it beeps, otherwise we will be constantly checking the time which is a waste of energy and constant distraction. So I think its a great tool that we can easily incorporate!

    And yes I also agree with Nikola that 50 minutes is not a magic number and that everyone has a different ability to focus. However you can also improve your concentration and focus with practice, so test yourself and check how long you can go until you feel comfortable. If you find its 30 minutes and you are comfortable with that then try and add 5 more minutes and do it until you feel comfortable again. And when you do feel comfortable at 35 minutes then add 5 minutes more and so on. However if you find you can’t pass from a certain time limit, that’s ok, simply adapt your productivity system to your skill, rest, renew and repeat! :)

  • This is really great! Hope to use these for my future! I adore all your write ups!

So, what do you think?