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How (And Why) To Use The 52/17 Rule To Boost Productivity


All it takes is just one email, a single Facebook notification, or a Like on your latest Instagram post to distract you from your work.

Once you’re distracted, it takes a long time to get focused and go back to work.

I know this better than anyone because I used to face this problem almost every day. It’s something you have to deal with when you’re working from home.

People working at an office can at least stay focused on the work at hand out of the fear they have for their boss. But for a freelancer working from home, procrastination is an ongoing war.

Thankfully,  I’m no longer procrastinating. And I’m slowly becoming more productive. Thanks to the 52/17 method.

I found an effective new strategy to boost my productivity. And if you’re like me and have trouble focusing on work, you might want to give this strategy a try.

What Is The 52/17 Rule?

I’ve tried all the methods.

I’ve tried using lots of browser extensions to keep me from visiting time-wasting websites. Tried the Pomodoro Technique. I’ve tried timer apps. And even tried scaring myself to stay productive by setting terrible deadlines. Of course, some techniques worked for a while but nothing lasted long.

While searching for new productivity hacks, a few months ago I learned about this new strategy called The 52/17 Rule.

It’s nothing special. This strategy works the same way as the Pomodoro Technique. You simply set your clock to work 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break.

Simply put, it’s working at short bursts and taking more breaks.

I’ve been using this strategy for a few months now, and it works every time.

Why I Use It?


The 52/17 strategy solved a big problem I had with the Pomodoro Technique.

As a writer, I have to keep working whenever inspiration strikes. But, when using the Pomodoro Technique I was only working 25 minutes at a time. That time slot was too small for me to produce effective results.

As it turns out, working 52 minutes straight with no distractions helped me to keep my focus on the task at hand while looking forward to the 17-minute break I’m about to be rewarded with.

Does It Really Work?

This brilliant strategy has worked wonders for me.

I’ve been able to keep better focus while working, finish more articles at shorter time periods, and I even managed to add an extra client to my schedule thanks to my high rate of productivity.

In fact, I’ve managed to write a few extra chapters of my book as well.

How come this strategy is so effective? According to a study done by The Muse using a time tracking app, 10% of their users were able to get more work done by doing short bursts of work while also taking more breaks.

Why? Because during that 52 minutes, you’re working with better focus and purpose. And then taking a short break boosts up your energy to go another round. In a way, it’s simple science.

Why Should You Use It?

Most people think that freelancers make money by just sitting in front of a computer and clicking on a bunch of websites.

They don’t know about the hard work we have to put in every day to get results.

You have to clean your house, cook meals, take kids to school, and spend time with your family while also managing time to do your work. People going to office jobs have it easy.

Staying focused at work during that small amount of time we have each day can be difficult without a proper strategy. You’re probably having the same issue right now.

The 52/17 Rule has been a time-saver for me so far. And I’m sure you’ll find it useful too.

How To Get Started

There are no complicated steps to get started with the 52/17 Rule.

5217 app

A decent timer app is just what you need to get started. I use an app called 5217 on my phone. This app has been designed specifically to follow the 52/17 Rule and it even allows you to disable phone notifications during the 52-minute work period.

Apple users can try this app with a little bit of customization. A simple timer app should also be enough to do the trick.

Bonus: How To Avoid Getting Addicted to Your Phone

Lately, I’ve found myself getting addicted to my phone.

Whenever I was taking a break from work or even when I’m watching TV or in bed, I kept taking my phone out of my pocket and staring at it.

I tried hiding the social media apps or replacing them with other apps, but I kept going back to the same habit.

I’ve found a great app that helped me quit this addiction, it’s called Forest: Stay Focused.

forest app

This app gives the incentive to avoid looking at your phone. Whenever you want to focus, you plant a virtual tree in the app. It will keep growing as long as you do not look at the phone. If you unlock the phone, the tree dies.

It sounds silly but it’s actually quite effective. Give the app a try if you have the same phone addiction as I have. The app will help cure it.

Other Productivity Tips

In addition to these digital methods, you can also use other more simpler productivity methods to make the most of your time.

One method that always worked for me is making To-Do lists. I use Google Keep to create lists of things to do and check them off as I complete each task.

Try breaking down your work, projects, or goals into smaller tasks. Then add them into your To-Do list

I also use a Reminders app to create daily and monthly recurring reminders for regular tasks. Like exercising, taking vitamins, paying bills, and even for birthdays of friends and family. Todoist is a great app you can use for this.


In a world full of distractions, it’s now getting more difficult to stay focused at work. People will tell you to work hard, but they won’t tell you the right strategies to get things done.

Hopefully, the 52/17 Rule will be as effective for you as it has been for me.

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve found this strategy helpful or if you know of any other great methods for beating procrastination.

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Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.

Roshan Perera
Roshan Jerad Perera is a freelance writer, blogger, and founder of His main goal is to help others get started in freelancing and guide them toward a successful career and financial freedom.
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  • Res Nov 5,2022 at 4:35 AM

    This is based on the data collected by the Desktime App team and since then they updated their findings, search “Desktime App 52/17 update” as of 2021 they found it is more like 112/26 and it is still not a scientific research just data analysis of their customers 🙂

  • iy Jun 16,2021 at 11:02 AM

    Why no one writes a link to the research that found this ratio? There are a million websites say this but no research whatsoever.

  • Marshmallows May 7,2021 at 6:43 AM

    I tried this one recently since the Pomodoro technique doesn’t work for me until I found this! This is effective, but in my version I combined it with the “animedoro” technique wherein you watch an episode of an anime after 1 hour of work. Feels super productive. Great article bro.

    • Roshan Perera May 11,2021 at 11:45 AM

      That’s a great way to motivate yourself to work. It’s like the reward at the end of your work period. Thanks for sharing.

  • Harman Grewal Nov 18,2020 at 2:12 AM

    thank you so much. I am a student and learning new lang. so now i decided to make a time table and do study as much as i can bcoz i have to prepare for itz exam. this method looks real and working. so, i will use it and thank you so much once again! have a good day ahead! 🙂

  • Marwa alaghbry Aug 23,2020 at 6:41 PM

    Thanks a lot Roshan it is benefit article i will try do it 52/17 Rule

  • Ken Jun 8,2020 at 2:59 PM

    Nice and very informative article. I just discovered this rule recently and I’ve been using the app Procrastination Timer. It implements both 52/17 rule and the pomodoro technique. It has a clean and minamlist UI.

  • Jo Smith Apr 15,2020 at 9:43 AM

    Terrific article. Very interesting with clear advice. Thank you. Also thanks for the link for the timer app. I had spent hours trying to find one I could customise for an Iphone and that works perfectly. I also do 52/17 with a one hour lunch break and find it works very well too. Glad to have it confirmed by you.

    • Roshan Perera Apr 18,2020 at 12:33 PM

      Hi Jo, thanks so much for the kind compliments. Appreciate it. I’m glad you’ve found the article helpful.

  • FETHIA HAYAT BOUAMAMA Jan 14,2019 at 1:11 PM

    I know about 90 minutes rule, I just break it on all the day as freelancer mom, so I work litle the morning, and the rest let it for the evening at night is the best time for parent freelancers.

  • Rodolfo Feb 13,2018 at 4:37 PM

    What about long breaks? Do you take a longer break after 3 or 4 sessions or keep this system through the day? If so, how long you recommend for the longer break? I am struggling to find a good work-break ratio.

    • Roshan Perera Feb 14,2018 at 12:52 PM

      For me, 17 minute break is more than enough to recharge. In addition, I take a 1 hour lunch break 🙂

  • Arun Oct 8,2017 at 2:19 PM

    Nice post Roshan,
    Yes Pomodoro is a good way to beat procrastination. But the problem comes when your working on more creative or problem solving work, where you need more uninterrupted time to get something useful done.
    Its the first time i have heard the 52/17 method, and will give it a go. Like you mentioned in a world full of distractions, keeping focus is a effort on its own.

    • Roshan Perera Oct 9,2017 at 8:13 AM

      Totally agree. Let me know if it help boost your productivity 🙂

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