Staying Productive: The Power Hour Method

I am not good at being productive. Sure, there are days when I get tons of stuff done, but most of the time I fall into the time-sucking trap that is Netflix. I am a sucker for Netflix binges. But it’s not just that. The second I get home from work and sit down, any and all motivation I had to do anything disappears.

After a few days of not getting anything done at home, I typically find myself being completely overwhelmed by my constantly growing to-do list. At that point, there’s only one way I can get myself motivated to do anything: the power hour.

The power hour method is the most useful thing I have in my bag of tricks. I don’t ever mind giving up just an hour and I love knowing that I have a deadline. And that when the hour is over I get to take a break. But probably my favorite thing about the power hour is that I feel like I’m racing against the clock, which forces me to focus on one thing at a time.

This is a great method for people who are easily distracted. I am one of those people.

Schedule you power hour in advance

You need to decide in advance what hour you’ll set aside. I typically like to set aside an hour in the morning (if I don’t have to go in to work that day) or an hour in the evening after dinner. Pick a time when you know you’re not going to be too tired or have other things going on. Planning for a time when you’re the only one home is a good idea too. People are distracting.

Scheduling your power hour in advance helps you make sure to keep that time slot free for getting things done. It also lets you plan out your power hour a little bit more, which cuts down the distractions even more. It’s always easier to get things done if you have a plan.

Make a list of 3 things

Make a list of the 3 big things you want to accomplish during your power hour. You’ll be devoting 20 minutes to each item. Now, obviously we can only pick 3 things because we’re only setting aside an hour. But if you have more things you need to get done, or if your power hour leaves you feeling super motivated, you can always do more things or have a back up “I’m feeling like an over-achiever” to-do list handy. I almost always keep a second list.

Keep in mind that since you’re devoting 20 minutes to each task, you don’t want to make the tasks so simple that you’re done in 5 minutes. For example, if doing the dishes is on your list, but there’s only a small handful of dishes in the sink that won’t take long, you may want to expand that task to “tidy the kitchen.”

Things I typically have on my power hour list: clean the bathroom, finish the laundry, plan out future blog posts, respond to emails, etc. Usually my power hour list is made up of the things that I really need a kick in the pants to get done.

Set a timer

Setting a timer is so important. You don’t want to lose track of time on a task. And you want to make sure you’re working fairly quickly to stay focused. If you don’t finish a task in the 20 minutes? That’s ok. Just move on to the next thing. You can come back to whatever you don’t finish when the hour is up.

If you finish a task before your 20 minutes is up? Congratulations! But you don’t get a break. Roll that extra time into the next task. What if you finish all 3 of your tasks before the hour is up? That’s good! But it’s still power hour. Use the remaining time to get something else, anything else, done. Use your backup list. If you’re on a roll, just keep going.

I find so many times that after I’ve completed the power hour, I am so motivated to keep getting things done that I whip up another list and set the timer again to be productive for another hour.

And that’s all there is to it! One super productive hour in the middle of an unproductive week. Sometimes just one power hour is enough to leave me feeling productive for several days, and then sometimes I go right back to not wanting to do anything.

So I’m interested in hearing from you! How do you recover from a do-nothing slump? Do you have a similar method of making yourself be productive or do you have a different technique?

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