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This Stupid Simple Productivity Tip Will Get You Results Starting Tomorrow Morning

Start tomorrow morning with a power hour.

This is something I have been doing almost every day for more than a year, and it has been working extremely well.

A power hour is 60 minutes of focused productivity first thing in the morning on your most important goal.

Before email, before the Twitters, before Facebook, before family, before a shower, before breakfast, before a workout, before dawn (negotiable), and a minute past being fully awake, get going on the power hour.

This concept sounds really simple, but I can tell you it is not easy.

In fact, focused productivity is not as easy as it once was.

I think it has to do with the rise of irresistible distraction.

McKinsey, the management consulting company, says that on average we spend over two hours per day on email.

An article in Adweek reports that the average internet user has five social media accounts.

Pew Research says that most of us are checking the top social media platforms at least once a day.

We have texts to respond to. We have notifications that need to be cleared. We have pets that need to be walked. We have families that need to be tended to. We have friends to catch up with. We have a job to get to.

We have full lives.

I get it.

What I want to offer, though, is a simple and fool-proof way to make significant progress on a big goal in spite of your full life.

That’s where the power hour comes in.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1 – Identify your big goal. What is it you really want to accomplish? My big goal is writing my first book. Because of the power hour that book is on track for a February 2018 release.

Step 2- Begin the power hour. Add the power hour to your morning by removing what you usually do, or waking up one hour earlier. Again, simple, but not easy. To add the power hour into your already full life means you need to remove what you are currently doing in the morning, or it means you need to get up earlier and therefore lose a little sleep. This is why the big goal has to be worth it to you. Rearranging a full life is hard to do.

Step 3 – Keep doing it for one month. If you only do it for a few days, it won’t do anything. Instead, make yourself a deal that you will keep going for a month. A month allows the routine to take hold. A month allows you to see progress toward your big goal. Do it everyday including weekends and holidays. Everyday.

Step 4 – Evaluate. As you get more and more days under your belt, evaluate how it’s going. Is it working for you? What about it is working for you? What is not working? How could you tweak it? This is yours after all. There are no rules except those you wish to create.

Doing new things always sounds exciting at first. Then, after some additional thought, the excitement wears off and we start looking for an escape hatch.

Here’s a few excuses you could use to help you get out of implementing your own power hour.

“I am not a morning person. I can’t do this.” Ok, you may not be a morning person, but likely you wake up at some point during the day. What ever time you wake up is when to put this into practice. Don’t get up until 11 am? Then 11:15 to 12:15 is your power hour.

“I have a job where I need to be on email a lot / I can’t wait that long to check my email / I am super important.” Almost everything can wait an hour. There is no emergency that can be conveyed over email that can’t wait another hour. Real emergencies come from phone calls, or people stopping by. In general, the bigger the emergency the more you will get harassed. The power hour comes before email. For those who get up super early, the power hour happens before others are even awake. Night tamps down the noise of the world leaving few distractions early in the morning.

“I have a hard time concentrating for that long. Will 20 minutes work?” I get it. Wading into the pool of concentration for an hour is a big ask. If you can’t hold your attention that long when you start, keep working at it. It might take several weeks for your brain to get with the program. Keep going. It will get better.

“I have too much going on right now. Maybe I’ll try it in a few months.” This is the oldest trick in the book. Why does everyone think that tomorrow will be much easier and lighter than today? Was today much easier than life 6 months ago? The future is never as free as you think it will be. You don’t have to start tomorrow, but don’t put it off for a few months. It won’t work.

The key to all of this is that real productivity cannot live in the margins of a full life.

As life gets busier, we will need time for the surface activities, and we will need time for deep dives into big goals.

The power hour is one way to allow for time to deep dive into those big goals.

Won’t you at least try it?

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Productivity

Published on October 27, 2017

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