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The Power Hour: How to Beat Procrastination

The Power Hour: How to Beat Procrastination
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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 July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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