Your military style world war two jeep bursts through the wooded encampment. You hop out and notice the glimmering relic of your desire just behind a small army of guards. With deep courage you grab hold of your weapon and- shit.
The overplayed melody of your morning alarm chimes you into wakefulness and just like that your adventure fades into a feeling of groggy annoyance. As your eyes flutter open and those brainwaves start to activate, the frustration of waking up from an epic dreamscape soon gives way to another sensation; Excitement to get shit done.
Such excitement so early in the morning can only be found in those with burning purpose… or insanity. I am forever curious about which of those two groups most successful entrepreneurs belong to. Nonetheless, if you start your day with such excitement to finish your tasks, you are on a fast track to success.
The Fire to Finish
How many times have you started your day with a burning excitement? If you are like most purpose driven entrepreneurs, that might be fairly often. You will start your day with a full list of things to get done, and a fire to finish it.
But perhaps a better question is: How many times have you ended your day with an empty to do list? If you can’t say often, you’re not alone. Without the structure of an external organization, many entrepreneurs find it difficult to get shit done on time.
If you are part of this group, there is an almost magical method to finish your daily tasks. This method is used by some of the greatest, and most productive, entrepreneurs to finish their daily tasks with time to spare. We call it the “Power Hour.”
The power hour is simple:
- Go out and buy yourself an hour long hourglass.
- Pick one task to focus on.
- Flip the glass.
- Focus on nothing else but that one task for the remainder of the hour.
- See yourself make leaps and bounds toward finishing your project.
It really is that simple. When you focus on one task with the undivided attention, you can get things done in no time- well, an hour.
Multitasking: The Bane of Productivity
A lot of people think that the best way to finish their project is through multitasking. Well if you haven’t heard, we actually can not multitask. In his book “Flow,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi relays the fact that humans can only hold 7 bits of info in their attention span at any given moment.
That is a mere 7 unique numbers.
When we are trying to get shit done on our project at the same time as surfing Facebook for example, we are doing ourselves a disservice. The reality is that doing both of these activities together would surpass our 7 bit limit.
Take your Facebook home page for example. Every time I log into Facebook to message a colleague I get sucked into the wormhole that is my news feed.
Let’s say I am writing an article. All the ideas in my mind about where I am going to take the article fill up my 7 bits in one moment. Then I realize I need to message a fellow Superhero, so I log onto Facebook. Surely enough those 7 bits that were wholly focused on my article and messaging my colleague become replaced with notifications, pending messages, trending topics and the dreaded news feed.
And off I go down the rabbit hole of social media.
What actually happens here is that every time we go from one task to another, we have to swap our attention, our 7 bits, from the task of focus to a new one. In fact Fast Company found that with every attention swap, or as they called it “interruption,” it took 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get fully back on task.
This is a massive waste of our time when we’re trying to get stuff done.
And while a short interruption related to the task may be beneficial, most of the time it is not.
Focused, Uninterrupted Intensity is King
When we focus on one thing for an hour, completely uninterrupted, we may end up accomplishing more than if we had spread our focus out over several hours. This is the power of the power hour.
As Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr say in their life changing book “The Power of Full Engagement,” it is sprints, not marathons that make us successful.
Ah look at that, the last bit of sand has fallen from my hourglass. Now that the power hour is over, I believe it’s time to take bit of a power nap, and enjoy the fruits of a different kind of sand; the sandman’s dreamland.