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The Science of Increasing Productivity: The Hour of Power

Today I want to discuss a simple method for helping you focus on your most important items every single day. Many years ago, I was lamenting how, although it was mid-afternoon at work, I felt like I had accomplished absolutely nothing. There had been a couple of long, slow meetings, endless phone calls, and people dropping by just when I had hoped to get something important done. Finally, I said to myself, "enough is enough." I got out a piece of paper and wrote in big letters, "Don't interrupt me until after 4:00 unless the building is on fire." I placed the paper on the entrance to my office. Then, I turned off my phone. Amazingly, during the next hour of no interruptions, I accomplished more than I had during the previous 6 hours of being in the office. That's when I decided to take an hour every day to shut off my phone and request no interruptions. I call it my hour of power.

Every time we get interrupted from our task at hand by a phone call, an email, or a person dropping by, we lose our focus. This takes a major toll on our productivity and our ability to concentrate on our most important tasks. By creating an hour each day where you make sure you have no interruptions, you can get more doneā€”and more easily focus on what's truly important to you.

Unfortunately, most people get caught up in what is called "urgent activities," such as a person knocking on your door, a phone call, or some problem that calls out to them. Yet many so-called urgent activities really aren't that important. By setting aside an hour each day for your long term goals and truly important projects, you end up working smarter instead of harder.

So right now, sit up straight in your chair, take a deep breath, and then let it out with a long, slow sigh.


For the rest of this program, set aside an uninterrupted hour each day to focus on your most important items. The List you created in our last session can be a helpful reminder of the projects you can choose to work on during this time. Next, open up your calendar and schedule an hour each day this week that you'll commit to not answering your phone or checking for emails. In addition, create a sign that says "Do Not Disturb" and put this sign in an appropriate place during the beginning of your hour of power each day. You may have to inform office mates or clients that you're not available during this particular hour.

Finally, during your hour of power, ask yourself, "What is a long term goal or skill I can work on during this hour that will move my goals forward?" It may involve focusing on tech skills or marketing skills, or a dream project you've been putting off. Whatever it is, your hour of power can be a great way to do your most important work each day.

Creating an hour of power each day isn't always easy, but it's always worth it. When your mind is clear of interruptions, you can get more done in less time, and you're more likely to get to the really important stuff that you might normally put off because you couldn't fully concentrate. So schedule your hour of power now and take whatever steps it may require to make sure you don't get interruptions during this daily hour of power. You'll be amazed at how much you accomplish when you create this special hour each day.

In our next lesson, we'll be discussing how you can easily avoid overwhelm, and instead use a simple way to break big projects down into bite sized bits that are fun to do.

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Written by

Jonathan Robinson