How I Use 50/10 Method To Get More Focus Work Done

Dunith Danushka
5 min readAug 26, 2020
Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

The 50/10 method is simple. It says work for fifty minutes; rest for ten minutes.

I stumbled upon this when I was going through many productivity blogs and youtube videos. I’ve been looking for a “process” to get more work done within a less time. This method helped me to get there, especially during the inevitable work from home time period. So here’s how I managed to get the most out of the 50/10 method.

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” — France Kafka

50/10 rule is for sprinters, not for marathoners

The 50/10 rule is for those who plan to finish a lengthy task in a series of short sprints. If you are a person who usually does tasks in a long period, like 6–8 hours straight, this rule might not work for you.

The real power of this method lies within the 50 minute sprint. By breaking up a task into a sprints, you can trick your mind to finish them all one by one before you lose your focus.

Why 50 minutes?

According to the studies, 50 minutes is the ideal time slot for focused work. You might say that the Pomodoro technique would do the same. That is true to some extent, but when you get interrupted every 25 minutes, you’ll find it is noisy.

How to get the most out of 50/10 rule

1. Identify your flow states where you have most of your energy

You will not have the same level of energy throughout the day. Some people are good at doing a lot of work early in the morning while others go night owl mode. Hence, the energy level is a subjective measure. Be it night or dawn, you have to find at least two time slots in a day where you can engage in a task for 2–3 hours straight. For example, I choose 3 hours in the morning and another 3 hours in the night.

An Example for a Flow States Allocation for a Day

2. Break tasks into chunks, assign them into 50 minute sprints

Once you have allocated your flow state hours, you have to put them into 50 minute slots in each flow state period.

For example, writing an article and doing a research on a topic can further break apart to chunks. Finishing the outline of the article is a good chunk that can fall into a 50 minute sprint. You can finish the introduction part in the second sprint.

A Three Hour Session Broken Down to Three Work Sprints

3. Give each sprint an entry and exit criteria

It is very important having an end in mind when beginning a work. When you planning a chunk, define start and end states clearly. For example, for the sprint of writing an article, the start can be having an idea on what to write. The end of that sprint can be the outline of the article.Having a start and end to a sprint helps you to stay in focus. That pushes you to complete the task somehow during the sprint. That completion gives you a little dopamine hit so that you can be proud of your little achievement.

It is a Must to Define an Entry and Exit Goals

4. Avoid distractions when you are doing a sprint

There can be many distractions when you are in a sprint. There can be things you can control to stay in focus. Putting your phone into silent mode, avoiding social media are few examples. Also, there can be things you can not control by your own. For example, you may have a noisy neighbour, or you live closer to a construction site. The best way to avoid the uncontrollable is to use a noise cancelling headphone.

5. Listen to music that helps you to focus your work

There are music tracks you can listen in when you need a deep focus and concentration. Spotify will give you thousands of such music if you search with terms like “deep focus music”. I find it interesting to watch Youtube videos with binaural audio tracks. Listening to these tracks makes me feel like I’m engaged and don’t want to lose my focus till I reach the end of my sprint.

Focus Music, White Noise, Binaural Beats

What can you do during the break?

Well, I would say it is up to you to decide. But here are a few things I tryout during the 10 minute break.

  • Bio break (hit the bathroom)
  • Drink water
  • Pour a coffee for the next sprint
  • Do a few pushups
  • Walk

Make sure that the things you do during the break doesn’t break your mode for the next sprint.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.” — Michael Jordan

I’ve been using 50/10 method in the post COVID-19 period where working from home was inevitable.

It was pretty difficult to adjust to this during the first few days. But the key to success is you have to keep doing it and make it a daily habit. When you practise this for few weeks, you’ll feel like you can achieve many things in a day in few hours of a work. That’s what I call productivity.

Once you get into the grove, you will never feel getting out of it again.



Dunith Danushka

Editor of Tributary Data. Technologist, Writer, Senior Developer Advocate at Redpanda. Opinions are my own.