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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 July 8, 2020

    How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

    How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

    What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

    When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

    In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

    While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

    As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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      Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

      The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

      But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

      However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

      This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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      Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

      We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

      Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

      Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

      The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

      When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

      When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

      How to Make Decision Effectively

      Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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      1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

      You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

      Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

      Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

      2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

      You don’t have to choose all the time.

      Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

      Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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      3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

      You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

      The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

      Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

      Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

      So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

      More Tips About Decision Making

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

      Reference

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