We’re all looking to get more time out of the day, right? In my search for ways to make this happen, I’m often drawn into articles that promise help. Some researchers suggest that successful people often increase productivity by using a 50/10 rule. The concept behind 50/10 is that you work in 50-minute segments and follow-up with a 10-minute break.

I’ve been applying this to my workday and it’s really made a difference. I stay focused on one project or client for 50 minutes and then use the 10 minutes to play on social media, return phone calls, or send emails. I set the timer for both portions. Ten minutes on social media seems to fly by, so keeping tabs on how long I’m spending on potential time drains is important.

This topic feeds into one of the articles I found on Twitter — during a 10-minute break, of course! It can be difficult to not get distracted, particularly in a 50-minute segment. But, this article, How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused, reminds us that you have to train your mind like a muscle. According to David Rock, distraction has become a habit and we’ve trained ourselves to be unfocused.

This brings us to my third and final topic, an article found while researching this blog post (one of my 50-minute segments), 8 Tips for Finding Focus and Nixing Distractions by Matthew Toren. My favorite pointers from this list:

  1. Limit outside attention grabbers. In fact, during my 50-minute segments, I set my timer but move my phone far enough away so that it’s not within easy reach. And, I close out of the open tabs on my computer, including Facebook and Outlook. That way, I’m not so tempted to peek when I need to use other programs.
  2. Get to the bottom of procrastination. Taking time to reflect and investigate why you are delaying work on a project or task is always eye-opening.
  3. And lastly, clear your desk. The author points out that having other projects in view often leads to jumping to other less important, but easy-to-complete tasks.

What techniques are you trying to be more productive?