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The Power Hour: How to Beat Procrastination

The Power Hour: How to Beat Procrastination

What is one thing that stops you from truly succeeding today?

According to the thousands of business owners and sales professionals for whom I have led training workshops, there has been an all too prevalent theme that inhibits people from bringing them the wealth and results they desire. It really comes down to a few common behaviors that can be really boiled down to in one word: procrastination.

I gave up procrastination for Lent in 2011. I had never celebrated Lent before but the timing was right. I thought to myself, what one thing would I be willing to give up for 40 days? I am pretty healthy so I did not need to cut out any food or add exercise to my schedule. I did not really have any bad habits that I could think of. I thought long and hard about it. I could have thought about it for days. I could have avoided it altogether as I had done with many other parts of my life where I could have worked to get to my goals but found other things to do. Finally, it hit me. I needed to give up the worst of all habits: Procrastination.

Perhaps you can relate to this. I had become an expert at avoiding the most important thing I needed to work on. It did not matter if it was a phone call or a project for a client, for myself, or just something that needed to get done. I had become an expert at filling my day with everything but that one all-important task. So I made a vow to myself that I would give up procrastination for forty days.

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Wow! The transformation was amazing. I started seeing real results in my personal and business life. I started setting those important meetings with clients and getting projects done faster. I wrote out my goal list for the year and starting crossing it off faster than I imagined. Everything started to come together in my life. No longer was I lingering on any one task when I could be getting it done and moving onto the next thing.

    Then I thought if I could blast through this procrastination thing and see such great success, what else could I achieve? I made my ability to overcome procrastination into an action that could be repeated every day no matter how badly I wanted to avoid that thing that I had previously delayed on. If you have ever given up procrastination for a while, then you know that procrastination unfortunately can be an easy habit to slip back into.

    Perhaps you can relate to this. Have you ever just wanted to stay in bed and avoid the world? It can be so easy to lie in bed for just a few more minutes. It is not that difficult to justify spending just a couple extra minutes checking social media sites, which quickly turns into an hour of avoiding that important task. It can be so easy to swing by the store to pick something up and lose an hour from the workday.

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    In order to reinforce the power of life without procrastination, I scheduled a Power Hour into my day. It did not matter when I did it. But I found I had the best results when it was done before noon. Just think about this for a minute. If you invested one hour in your day tackling that project you have been avoided before you take your lunch break, how great would that feel? From my own experience, I have to admit it feels pretty awesome.

    Now you are probably wondering what this Power Hour is. To put it to you straight, this is the one hour that you buckle yourself into your chair and do what needs to get done. You do not let distractions, unrelated calls, negative self-talk, unnecessary breaks, refilling coffee, checking the internet, unproductive time on social media, grabbing supplies from the cabinet in the other room, or anything not directly related to the task.

    This sounds easy until you try to do it.

    You will be amazed at how many things pop into your mind during your power hour. One way to overcome this is to get everything lined up before the power hour. Get your beverage, go to the restroom, have your list of what needs to be accomplished in front of you, and put your pets or children to play or rest in another room where you won’t be distracted. For some people, they have to do this before the kids get up or others arrive to the office. However it works for you, try it for one day or one week. Once you see the results, you will want to do it every day.

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    In your work area, have a blank sheet of paper and pen next to you for writing down all the other things that pop into your head during your power hour. I suggest pen and paper because if you are on a computer project, it is easy to get distracted as you go into another program to jot down a note. If you are ten minutes into your power hour and you suddenly realize you need to refill the stapler, then write on your note sheet to refill the stapler. If you remember fifteen minutes later that you need to pick up dry cleaning, then write that down. If you need to pay a bill or call your client, write that down. If you get up and do the thing that pops into your head, it will take away from your productivity and encourages the behavior of procrastination.
    Now what would happen if you could add one Power Hour to your day? One session added where you did not get distracted by the things that take away from your productivity. How much wealth would adding one power hour to your day create?

    Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

    The Power Hour is easily translated into one dedicated hour where you put 100% effort into one dedicated task or project. During this allotted Power Hour, you can often make more progress than you normally would in entire workday. That one focused hour per day could generate more results than would normally be accomplished in a distracted eight-to-ten hour day or a forty-to-sixty hour distracted workweek or a 2,000 hour distracted work year.

    Consider this for a minute. If you could add one power hour to your day, how much new business would that generate for you? How many more appointments or valuable meetings would you set? How much additional revenue would you create? Your answers to all these questions should make you want to run to your office chair and start making some calls. But then, life happens and in turn, nothing happens for your business. Why? Because we are so great at being busy being busy.

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    If you could add one power hour to your day, when could you most easily slip it into your schedule?

    For some people, their quietest time is early in the morning. That is why many managers and business owners often show up to the office an hour or more before their staff arrives. For others, they can find a quiet hour after they drop their kids off and get back to their home or office.

    Find an hour that works for you and do your first power hour. If you used to do these power sessions and had super-productive times during your day, then this will just be like exercising a muscle that has gotten out of shape. You will quickly see results. If this is your first Power Hour, it may take a couple sessions before you can last a whole hour. It sounds funny reading it, but it can be really hard to stay focused on the task at hand for one hour. Try it. Would now be a good time?
    Answer the questions in the Exercise to get a powerful Power Hour sheet. Write on it. Make it work for you.

    EXERCISE

    1. Where in your life are you letting unnecessary “work” slow down your progress?
    2. What actions take up the majority of your working day? Are these the things that will make you money or contribute to your goals?
    3. How would turning one extra “working hour” per day into one “income-producing hour” change your income over the next month? Repeated consistently over the next year, what would that be worth to you?

    Featured photo credit: Antique Clock via Shutterstock and inline photo by Erik Fitzpatrick via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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