The Power of an Hour

The Power of an Hour

The idea for this blog came from such an hour – a meeting last week with my business partner, Martin Bloxham and our marketing guru Richard

As Martin said the words “The power of an hour”, Richard and I immediately responded ‘that’s a great title’! And the meeting we had was indeed an hour with power – it had clear purpose, great generation and sharing of ideas and agreement on actions we each needed to do.

So what is the power of an hour? Or even better, what is the power of your hour?

My guess is that you have no difficulty filling up your hours. Demands on time at work seem to be ever increasing, and online there are continuous calls for your time – from individuals, organisations and businesses who want to get (and keep) your attention. Then there’s your home and social life that also needs you.

But what are you (and we) filling up our hours with? At work, it could easily be doing operational tasks – often routine but usually urgent. Sometimes on your own, increasingly often in meetings. Things that need to be done to keep everything moving. Often deadline driven and given to us by others to do.

We often hear from people in mid-career who still find that such work can occupy much (sometimes all) of their days. It meets immediate needs but does little to either enable them or their work to make the difference they want or to build the most rewarding results over the longer term.

If you find yourself in this position, what can you do about it?

Here’s a suggestion. 

Start with an hour.

Imagine that in this moment I could grant you an extra hour this week at work. A special hour that is not yet scheduled with tasks or meetings.

I realise that there may well be a strong temptation to use the extra hour to catch up – on email, on tasks, on a report that is overdue. Or quite possibly to have some time to go for a walk.

But what else might make it an extraordinary hour – an hour with power?

So try this question.

How could you use this hour to make a real difference to what you do and how you feel about what you do?

By all means, stop reading here and take time to think about the question. You may find that you’ve got enough to go on and follow up your thoughts.

a large waterfall over a body of water
Ali Burhan – Unsplash

If you’re still here, let me offer some suggestions for an hour with power.

0:00 Spend a few minutes relaxing, letting go of the previous hour and preparing for this one

0:05 Mind Map, or make a list, of important ideas, tasks, projects which you would love to have time to do. They are sitting in the Important Not Urgent box and won’t get attention until they become Urgent. But they often contain things that can make a big difference to what you, your team and your organisation achieve.

0:15 Look at each of them. Imagine what the difference each one could make if you were able to complete them. Is there one that is calling out to you for attention the loudest? If so, choose it. If not, choose the one that excites you the most.

0:25 Focus on what you have chosen. To give it more shape, ask yourself 3 questions and note (or mind map) your answers:

1) What would be a great outcome or result here?

2) Who else could/should be involved?

3) What are 1 or 2 actions I could take to get started?

0:35 Schedule these actions into your calendar

0:40 You’ve been doing what Cal Newport in his excellent book calls ‘Deep Work’. It’s enemy is distraction – distraction from others or from ourselves! So ‘Deep Work’ needs protected time. 

How could you create the protected time you need to do more of it? For example, can you simply block out an hour a week on your calendar and get it? Think about what else you could do? Who else could you talk to about this? 

0:50 Review what you have accomplished in this session. What’s worked well? What would you do differently next time?

0:55 Take a few minutes to close down this session and be ready for what’s next. No-one benefits from back-to-back events.

That could be an hour with power.

* * *

I’ve been providing training in Time Management, which I call ‘Time Tactics’, for over 10 years in our science leadership workshops and courses. 

The use of time at work is a frequently voiced challenge amongst the people we work with. But ‘time’ is such a tricky subject and one which receives enormous attention online. There are so many methods, systems and perspectives available. The challenge is to develop your own system that works for you, whilst regularly reviewing progress and remaining open to ideas that work for others.

At every event we run, participants share and learn from each other’s ideas. If you are interested in investing some time into developing your own time management practice have a look at our next Time Tactics online workshop.

I welcome your ideas.

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