Applying Dean Jackson’s 50 Minute Focus Finder

The 50 minute focus finder is a technique created by a supremely clever marketer by the name of Dean Jackson that he uses to get more done in less time. He has a video the goes over the technique that I’ll share with you below – check it out:

The 50-Minute Focus Finder from Dean Jackson on Vimeo.

I watched the video quite some time ago and thought it was great, but had a little bit of trouble applying it. I don’t quite have the same amount of control over my schedule that Dean has, nor do I have an ‘evil scheme hatchery’ that I can retreat to that is devoid of all distractions of any kind!

However, I recently started working at a new position that sees me juggling priorities and multiple clients on a daily if not hourly basis and I’ve been struggling to make headway at times.

As an avid listener of the I Love Marketing podcast, I kept getting reminders to watch this video, so I finally came back to it. I’m now applying a bastardized version of Dean’s focus finder. I’ve found that even though I don’t have my own personal “hatchery” to scheme in, the fundamentals can be applied even for those of us camped out in a cubical all day.

How am I applying it?

Productivity 101 is not to let email dictate your day. I start off with a plan and if at all possible, avoid checking email right away. Nothing derails the plans of mice and men more than email. The thing that seems to be working for me the best though is the 50-20-50 chunks of time.

Just before I start a 50 minute chunk, I generally do about 5 minutes of prep time so that I can focus on the task as much as possible once I hit the timer. When the timer goes off, I do my best to stop what I’m doing unless I have maybe a minute or two left to finish the task 100%.

A countdown timer with a bomb and fuse display
I’m sure Dean would already be cringing at my attempts to use his elegant strategy!

I avoid emails, I do my best to put off any requests from co-workers as much as possible and get as much done as I can in the 50 minutes I have to work with.

When my break comes, I do my best to get up and leave my desk for at least 10 minutes. Actually, my cell phone has an alarm feature in it that only occurs in 15 minute increments – so I set it for 15 minutes and use the remaining 5 minutes to prepare for my next 50 minute chunk.

So in this way, I’m focusing on one particular client for 50 minutes at a time – sometimes for multiple 50 minute chunks if there’s a lot of work required.

I have to think that Dean didn’t just accidentally stumble on the 50-20-50 time frames. 50 minutes is plenty of time to get stuff done, but not so much that you can start slacking off – you have to be focused the whole time.

Also, 20 minutes is ample time to unwind, break up the routine and shake things up so that you’re ready to hit the next 50 minute chunk firing on all cylinders!

It’s an organized approach to the chaos I’m confronted by each day. Before I’d throw myself into things and multitask as much as possible; ending up feeling frazzled and unproductive.

In a weird way, using the 50 minute focus finder technique almost seems like you’re not working; it’s almost like a game to get as much done as you can in 50 minutes, and then you have 20 minutes to goof off, check the email you’ve been avoiding, grab something to eat or go for a brisk walk.

Again, the only criticism I can give to the 50 minute focus finder is for employees who are ultimately at the whims of their employer as far as how their particular day is planned. Still, whenever I have the chance to plan my day – this is the approach I’m taking.

When the productivity improves, I’m sure just about any employer would back up and let you keep doing what’s working for you.

Have you attempted to use the 50 Minute Focus Finder? How’s it working for you?


50 minute focus finder, dean jackson, i love marketing, productivity

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