Tackle Your Biggest Projects With a Daily ‘Power Hour’

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When you think of “power hour,” you might think of a drinking game, but what we’re about to discuss is kind of the opposite of that. “Power Hour” is also a specific productivity hack; it comes from Adrienne Herbert’s book, Power Hour: How to Focus on Your Goals and Create a Life You Love and asks you to devote an hour a day to working hard on your biggest task—or the thing you care about the most. 

What is a “Power Hour”?

At its core, the Power Hour is about reclaiming part of your daily time and devoting it to something intentional. The author uses flowery language here, saying you should do this in the first hour of your day “before the rest of the world needs your love, attention, and energy,” and suggests using the Power Hour for a task that is meaningful to you. You can adapt it, however, to be for productivity, even on tasks that are more necessary and boring than your passion projects. 

Herbert suggests using the first hour of the day for this, but you can also use a time of day that makes most sense for you. Everyone is different and has different “peaks” of productivity, largely determined by the time of day and something called the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which shows that you’re likely to be most productive when you have a little stress (like a deadline) but not too much (like a deadline that’s in 15 minutes). Use time tracking software and a daily journal to figure out when you generally have your most productive moments, then shape your Power Hour around those. For the most part, this is a habit you should try to build and stick to, so putting the Power Hour at a predetermined time every day is advisable; but if something like a big project crops up, you have some wiggle room to move it around to suit your needs. 

How to use a Power Hour for productivity

Once you’ve decided where in your day the Power Hour should go, it’s time to get started. You’ll be engaging in deep work here, or uninterrupted work that is solely focused on one task. Your first step to getting there is to block the Power Hour off in a way that both holds you accountable and lets other people know you’re busy. Be sure to mark it in your calendar and stick to it, but also try to include it on public-facing calendars, whether they’re ones you use with your family or with your colleagues. 

Next, you have to get into the deep work, which means focusing for a straight hour. A few things can help you do this: 

Depending on how you usually work, a Power Hour could take some time to get used to, especially if you’re someone who usually multitasks or loses focus. Once you get the hang of it, though, you can use it to blast through all kinds of tasks, whether those include work-related activities, cleaning your house, budgeting, or anything else you lack the time and attention to pull off in a typical day. Communicating that you’re busy and sticking to the schedule are key, so make sure to plan for this before you try it. 

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