A group of people productively work at a large table representing the 90 20 Rule.

Time is the most precious thing you have. If you want to be more productive and achieve your goals, you know you need a plan to use your time wisely. Focusing on your highest value tasks, minimizing distractions, and finding more efficient ways to work are all essential steps to being more productive. In career coaching or career counseling, we also teach something called the 90 20 rule. It’s a framework for segmenting your time to get more done and be more creative, while maintaining balance and avoiding burnout. 

Read on to learn about the 90/20 rule and how it can help you achieve your goals. 

What Is the 90 20 Rule?

The 90-20 rule, often referred to as the “Power Hour” or “90-Minute Focus Session,” is a time management technique that emphasizes focused, uninterrupted work followed by a short break. It centers around the idea that high-quality work can be accomplished in a limited time frame with the right level of concentration. This concept flips the conventional 80/20 rule, which suggests that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of your efforts. Instead, the 90-20 rule emphasizes that you can accomplish significant goals by dedicating just 20 percent of your day.

The key to the 90/20 rule’s effectiveness lies in the power of focused work. When you commit to working without distractions for a set period—typically 90 minutes—your brain enters a state of flow. During this time, you’re fully immersed in your task, your concentration is at its peak, and your productivity soars. It’s also easier to think creatively and solve problems when you’re in this state. Taking periodic 20-minute breaks allows you to recover your energy and return to work refreshed.  

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Why You Should Try the 90/20 Rule

Now that you understand the basics, let’s explore how the 90/20 rule can transform your productivity:

  • Enhanced Focus: By working in concentrated bursts, you sharpen your focus on the task at hand, rather than letting your energy deplete gradually throughout the day. 
  • Get More Done: When you maximize your attention and energy for 90 minutes, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.
  • Quality Over Quantity: This method encourages high-quality work instead of racing through tasks for the sake of completing them.
  • Balanced Work-Life: Regular breaks allow you to recharge, preventing burnout and helping you maintain a healthier work-life balance.
  • Less Stress: With designated breaks, you can recover from stress at work and prevent mental fatigue, ultimately increasing your overall well-being.

The 90 20 rule encourages you to tackle one important task at a time, avoiding multitasking and splitting your focus. It also encourages you to set boundaries between work time and personal time, which is a keystone habit that leads to greater success and wellbeing in the long run. 

Using the 90/20 Rule

To incorporate the 90/20 rule into your work routine, follow these steps: 

  1. Plan Your Day: Identify your most important tasks and schedule 90/20 sessions around them before you get started. 
  1. Use Timer Apps: Various timer apps and websites are designed for the 90/20 rule, making it easy to track your sessions.
  1. Create a Distraction-Free Zone: Find a workspace where you can focus without interruptions.
  1. Be Consistent: Make the 90 20 rule a regular part of your work routine, and adjust it to your specific needs.
  1. Reflect and Adjust: After each session, evaluate your progress and consider any changes or improvements needed. 

Support for Success at Work

Using a structured approach to time management like the 90 20 rule can help you get more done while leaving space in your life for the things that matter most. Implementing this and other productivity strategies requires commitment and practice — and sometimes support from an expert. If you are interested in working with a life coach or career counselor on my team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation


Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby 

P.S. — For more advice on thriving at work, check out my Professional Growth collection of articles and podcasts. 

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