Are you ready for the Power Hour?

13/12/2013 |

superhero(image courtesy of nestor galina via Flickr)

Are you ready for the Power Hour?

The Power Hour is something I developed for myself a couple of years ago and I use it if avoiding a particular important activity.

The idea is simple. Schedule an hour of your most proactive attention to work on what you’re avoiding. After all, it’s just an hour of your day. I’m not asking myself to work on that thing for the whole day.

Adding it to the diary changes it from being a possible option for the day (which I’m likely to ignore in favour of easier, noisier work) to being a commitment, hard-wired into my day. It brings focus and by the end of one Power Hour I’ve usually delved deeply enough into the activity to know that it’s not quite as scary or difficult after all. To make choices about what to schedule as a Power Hour activity,

I use a question on my Weekly Checklist: “What are the big rocks that are either difficult or that you might be avoiding?” If that throws up an answer, I’ll schedule Power Hours for the following week, right there in my review. It’s such a relief knowing that I have a commitment and a plan to move forward on the things that are stuck.

The other way to use Power Hours is to think about this question:

“What’s the one activity that, if you did it consistently for an hour a day every day this year, makes a person in your job successful?”

If you were a sales person, that activity might be cold calling. If you don’t enjoy cold calling, you’ll always find something else to do in its place. Developing a habit, though, that every day between 9.30 and 10.30am you cold call, will, over time, yield results. Of course, this isn’t rocket science. But if you have a clear idea in your mind right now about your one activity, the chances are that you’re not actually practising that for an hour a day or more. The Power Hour can be a way to find consistency, develop muscle, turn a conscious choice into an effortless, unconscious habit and ultimately meet your goals.

The only rules of the Power Hour are:

  1. Once you’ve committed to a Power Hour, you can’t change the time or reschedule it (you wouldn’t reschedule a meeting at short notice with your boss, so why be more willing to let yourself down than you are to let others down?).
  2. You can only have one Power Hour each day. The focus on consistently doing one thing well is what counts here. Trying to schedule seven Power Hours a day just leads to stress and disappointment so don’t even try.
  3. You’ll also find Power Hours easier if you can tell your colleagues you’re doing it and ask for their co-operation in not interrupting you during that time. Perhaps put that china cat out on your desk, as Elena does in the Think Productive UK office.

This public pronouncement will also firm up the commitment in your mind too. Anything else you can do that might subconsciously create a signal that this hour is special and different from all the rest will really help, too. This could be something as simple as changing your desktop background, putting on your favourite music or drinking expensive herbal tea instead of the usual ‘normal’ tea.

You could also do something more physical, like work from a different desk or take your work outside to enjoy the view.

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