The (10+2)*5 Method Will Help You Get More Done in a Day.

Whether you’re trying to write a novel or send an email, it can be hard to force yourself to stick to a set work schedule. Of course, I try my best to control myself; I mean, I know the person who set the terms here, and it’s pretty easy to undermine. That’s why I welcome any productivity improvement that will finally get me into a transcendent workflow state. Enter: method (10+2)*5.

Don’t worry – despite its name, the (10+2)*5 rule has nothing to do with PEMDAS. Created by Merlin Mann of , this “beat procrastination” rule offers a schedule to help you get started and take breaks. I thought it sounded good so I tried it myself. Here’s how the (10+2)*5 method has helped me be more productive and how you can make it work for you.

How it works

The name of the method (10+2)*5 may seem confusing, but it’s simple to implement. The whole equation means that you should divide each hour of your day into 10 minutes of work plus a two-minute break done five times (12×5=60). The idea is that by motivating yourself with frequent breaks, you will overcome the first hurdle: getting started in the first place. After that, I hope you get into such a work rhythm that you eventually start skipping two-minute breaks.


I tried the (10 + 2) * 5 spread this morning when I was writing my first Lifehacker article of the day. Here’s what my schedule looked like:

9:00 – 9:10 WRITE

9:10 – 9:12 BREAK

9:12 – 9:22 WRITE

9:22 – 9:24 VICTORY

9:24 – 9:34 WRITE

9:34 – 9:36 DREAM

9:36 – 9:46 WRITE

9:46 – 9:48 Twitter

9:48 – 9:58 WRITE


I used a phone timer and manually reset it before each work/break block.


Whether out of scientific honesty or sheer nerve, I found myself sticking to my schedule to the second. I also found that a two minute break is nothing . (Especially if I used my break to check Twitter; two minutes isn’t enough to properly participate in the discourse of the day.)

On the other hand, 10 minutes of direct concentration proved to be an effective length of time. It’s short enough that I don’t feel overwhelmed, yet long enough for me to get a few words on the screen. Depending on the task at hand, I could easily skip one of the two-minute breaks to ride the wave of the workflow.

Here’s what I recommend for this rule to work best: Resist the temptation to rearrange or lengthen breaks. If you miss a break from 9:34 to 9:36, you won’t be able to use it randomly at 9:41. This will save you from having to do the work for those 10 minutes (or longer). pieces.

It all comes down to the first step

The biggest hurdle to being productive is putting off the very first step. I’m a regular runner, and whether I run one mile or 26, I almost always have to negotiate with myself to get out the door. Just run for five minutes and then you can turn around. Or run one mile and then walk all you want.

The reason this negotiation system works for me is that once I get my body in motion, it will be much easier for me to keep it moving. However, to get to this point, I need to know that a break is coming (like those two-minute breaks after every 10 minutes of hard work).

Motivate yourself with the prospect of regular breaks, and then once you start, you may find that you are not so desperate for them. If you find it difficult to take the first step towards getting the job done, try the (10+2)*5 method.


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