Project Practitioners > The 5x50 Productivity Formula

The 5x50 Productivity Formula

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Project managers are always looking for ways to be more productive and generate more with less. Resources, including time and money, are scarce and even finite. No one on this planet gets more than 24 hours in a day. From billionaires to middle managers to boots-on-the-ground laborers, each one is allotted the same amount of time.

Since the introduction of smartphones, wasting time has never been easier. You have the world at your fingertips. Applications are designed to keep you distracted on events outside of your control. Who is dating who in Hollywood? What did the President say now? When is so-and-so’s baby going to be born?

All of these questions distract from the goal. In answering any of those questions, did you move the project along or did you click another link that took you further down the rabbit hole?

A distraction I have in my inbox is the numerous email subscriptions to various websites. The titles attract my eyes, and I click without even thinking. In one such case, I came across this productivity formula developed by the High Performance Academy. Brendon Burchard is one of the leaders of this academy.

His video, titled 5 50-Minute Habits Get You 30% More Productive (and Energized), introduced me to the productivity formula I am going to share with you. There are five habits one can do every day for 50 minutes each that will increase your productivity 30%. In other words, you can produce 40 hours worth of work in 31 hours. That is an entire day’s savings of time!


  1. Increase your sleep by 50 minutes per night.

Ask yourself, “How can I get 50 more minutes of sleep?” and think about how you spend those 50 minutes now. Do you scroll endlessly through news feeds or social media? Do you watch mindless television to relax? These activities are not only keeping you up for unnecessary reasons, but also impacting the sleep you eventually get.

To implement this habit, develop a routine before bed. Normally I root against routine because it can cause humans to turn into robots, but in this case, the routine is beneficial. One important aspect of this routine is no screens an hour before going to bed. In conjunction, lower the light levels in whichever room you decide to wind down.

I hear all of the time how people are running on four to five hours of sleep. It seems like people wear this like a badge of honor. This lack of sleep befuddles me every time. While it is possible to survive on such little sleep, thriving on a lack of sleep is difficult.


  1. 50 minute morning stretch and strategize.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your phone for email or missed calls? Flip open your laptop to finish a presentation for later that day? Checking your email or social media begins the day by reacting to other people’s wants. While these activities may seem productive, a better approach is to wake up, drink some water, perform physical activity (i.e., stretching, jogging, HIIT workout), and strategize your day.

For the first 20 minutes, get the blood flowing. This activity can be anything. Use your imagination. While the blood is pumping, make sure to drink some water. Keep the body and mind engaged early.

After 20 minutes of elevating your heart rate, begin your strategy session. Burchard recommends writing down what projects you have going on and what tasks you need to perform for them to move forward. Next, he suggests listing the people you need to contact in two categories: who you need to reach out today and who you are awaiting a response from.

The final strategizing revolves around your priorities. Answer the question, “What must happen today if I want to move my life forward?” The list should be three to five items long. Condense any list that appears longer.

If an activity or person does not make any of the three lists, regard it as a distraction.


  1. 50-minute blocks of time.

These 50-minute blocks of time are uninterrupted. No email, phone calls, texting, browsing, and so on. The only focus is the task at hand. If you need to write a proposal, you spend 50 minutes writing the proposal. If you need to answer emails, spend 50 minutes answering emails.

Blocking this time out should be used to create, do work, or advance ideas. You are putting 100% of your effort towards the task.

In scheduling these blocks of time, make at least three separate instances they appear throughout the day. Many project managers have meetings to attend, possibly all day and 50-minute chunks of time just are not available. That is fine. The thought process must remain on the importance of these and schedule them whenever possible.


  1. Every 50 minutes, stop whatever you are doing, and start to move.

Once the 50 minute block time is up, get up and walk around. Again, you want to get the blood flowing. For some, this may be a quick stretch and grab a cup of coffee. For others, a quick walk around the building or parking lot will suffice. Whatever the activity, it must keep you active and not anywhere near the focused task.

These ten minutes are your chance to breathe. However, do not fill this time with unnecessary distractions. Gossiping around the office or interrupting others while they work is not ten minutes well spent. Use this time for you. Make it about finding your happy place where work does not exist.

When the ten minutes is up, get right back into an uninterrupted 50-minute block of time if possible. Just like the 50-minute blocks of time are uninterrupted to be solely focused on the task, these ten minutes should be used to clear your mind and become distraction free.


  1. 50-minute renewal (walk and meditation).

Last but not least, Burchard recommends a 50 minute renewal period. At the end of the day, before you get in the house and plop down on the couch, go for a walk. He suggests 30 minutes to walk followed by a 20-minute meditation. These activities can vary, but they should include some physical movement along with mental preparation.

As this renewal can be classified as a cool down, Burchard does not recommend turning this into a workout. Working out ramps you up while this blocked time is meant to do the opposite. You want to focus your attention inward and deflect any distractions.



This list of habits may seem like common sense. However, common sense is not common practice. It reminds me of people who know what foods to eat yet continue to cram pizza and ice cream into their mouths. Knowledge is great. The application is the secret.

By watching the video and reading this article, you have already taken the first step to becoming more productive. Now, you must internalize these habits and make them your own. In doing so, you become more productive.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

I loved the comment at the end; common sense is not common practice. I will use this as a project mantra now.

Carolina - Thank you! I am glad to hear your new project mantra.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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