The Productivity Solution – Intense Focus Sprints

Author: tracysigler | Posted: February 17th, 2011 | | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Do you prefer the “60 60 30” or “50 20 50”? The former “solution” is from Internet marketing super hero Eben Pagan and the latter from the “marketing philosopher” Dean Jackson. What am I talking about? These are simple, not always easy, methods of focusing your brain and your time to do the work that really matters – the hard thinking work that you will do anything to avoid, but no one else can do for you.

Manage your day like a series of sprints instead of a marathon and you’ll be much more effective. Set up your “sprints” as manageable one to two hour sessions of intense focus, no interruptions allowed. This is where those numbers come in. Pagan’s version of this entails 50 minutes on with a 10 minute break, twice, then a longer break, 30 minutes, where you might get a light meal or even take a nap, whatever works for you. The Dean Jackson version is similar, and in practice I prefer it. You start with the same 50 minutes, but take a 20 break, then another 50 minute jam session to finish your two hour block.

When you take your breaks, do NOT check email, voicemail, social media, etc. All of that stuff will only plant the seeds of distraction. In fact, I highly recommend that you avoid email until you’ve done at least one of these peak productivity blocks each day. I never check email first thing in the morning, because you can isolate yourself from people, email, and mobile phones, but your own thoughts can be harder to escape.

To paraphrase Dean Jackson “make time to play G.O.L.F. every morning.” Set yourself up for success. Start with a Goal, ideally you’ll have list of your top priorities to choose from. Create an Optimal Environment, a quiet clutter-free office or room helps. Limit Distractions by turning off your phone etc. Trust that in the Fixed Time Frame (two hours or so) that the world won’t end if you don’t reply to emails, phone calls, and people with questions.

The further into the day that you can impose your will the more successful you will become. Am I able to do this every day? No, but I always try, and invariably the days that I succeed are the days when we move the ball down the field.


  1. For a much more detailed explanation of the “50 20 50 Solution” see this lecture by Dean Jackson.
  2. For a related discussion, see this article about office design by Tim Ferriss which includes pictures (see below) of his “Optimal Environment.”


3 Comments on “The Productivity Solution – Intense Focus Sprints”

  1. 1 june said at 6:51 pm on February 17th, 2011:

    Sounds similar to this:

    Never tried it myself but have heard of it working for other people. I should give one of the above a try since time seems to disappear faster than ever these days!

  2. 2 Tracy Sigler said at 8:02 pm on February 17th, 2011:

    Thanks June. I hadn’t heard of Pomodoro. I got the free ebook! There are definitely some complementary tactics in there. I didn’t mention using a timer in the post but I do that constantly. I have kitchen timers all over the house, and I’m still looking for the perfect one.

  3. 3 Luke Caine said at 11:10 am on April 5th, 2011:

    I like the article, it really gets down to what productivity is really about. I’ve come across a lot of other productivity gurus but it seems more built for the life in corporate, but I do things according to my will. Thanks for the great post!!


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