How to Get Things Done with a Power Hour

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Blog/Setting Intentions/How to Get Things Done with a Power Hour

One of the reasons I like this productivity tool is that the time limit creates a sense of urgency than can help you limit distractions and prevent procrastination by keeping you focused. Power Hour is a way to gamify both priorities as well as to-do tasks.

And if you aren’t keen on playing Beat the Clock and discovering how many tasks you can get done in one hour, sixty minutes isn’t a huge commitment and yet you can accomplish quite a bit toward a goal.

If you’re like me and have ADHD, you may need a brief break at the half-hour mark, but when you take a break intentionally, it serves more to reinvigorate your attention than to create a distraction.

You can use Power Hour for personal or professional habits or goals. You can even have multiple Power Hours throughout the day…perhaps one for fitness, two for work-oriented projects, and another for your evening routine.

This pattern can help you be more productive because it’s clear what you want to do and when you’ll do it. You eliminate procrastination as you develop the practice of doing your morning routine or a regular work task at x o’clock.

​I’ll discuss a few ways that you can use Power Hour as a daily or weekly tool. The key is that this tool creates a space for you to work on a goal-oriented task or series of random tasks as opposed to you trying to identify spontaneous moments during the day to work on these responsibilities.

How to Use a Daily Power Hour

A daily Power Hour can focus on a series of ongoing habits or on a project with a deadline. Perhaps the most important part of using a Power Hour is that you are stating that these actions are important to you by creating time in your day to work on those tasks.

So, yes, you want to schedule time for a daily Power Hour much as you set a dentist appointment or have scheduled hours for work. You show up for these commitments because they are on your calendar. If you are working on personal goals during your Power Hour, you may feel that you should simply ‘fit them in’ when you ‘find the time.’ But, as you’ve likely discovered, this is a recipe for these tasks not happening.​

Create a Morning Routine

While your morning may be packed with a series of tasks from showering to eating breakfast to helping children or adults with special needs get ready for their day, you can also create a self-care routine within your series of morning tasks.

A morning routine with self-care activities helps you meet your needs with meditation or prayer, journal writing, exercising, planning your day to achieve your goals, or reading inspiring or personal development books.

​​Adding an hour of these activities to your morning means that you have done something good for yourself before the demands of the day start pulling your attention in multiple directions. (Can’t do a Power Hour? How about a Power Half Hour or a Power Quarter Hour?)

Create an Evening Routine

Create an Evening Routine. Your evenings can be filled with an assortment of responsibilities from making dinner, doing household chores, talking with family members, watching television, catching up on social media, and perhaps even heading out to meetings or classes.

Within all of that, an evening Power Hour can help set you up for success the next day. If you were wondering how that you could create a self-care-oriented morning routine when you’re rushing around most mornings looking for the things you need take with you on your way out the door, getting dressed, checking email, and so on, your evening routine can create time and peace in the morning.

Think sixty minutes, not your entire evening, and stack tasks that will make your morning (and the rest of the next day) run smoother.

This could include setting out your outfit and accessories for the next day, making lunch, setting up for breakfast, charging devices, gathering anything you need to take with you to one spot…including your keys, checking the schedule for tomorrow, and so on.

​You may want to start with a checklist to prompt your memory. Create a flow or pattern of doing the tasks in the same order and over time your evening routine will become an automated process. It can take you a few days to a week or so to create your evening checklist, so you aren’t forgetting anything.

Work Toward a Goal

A daily Power Hour is also effective for working toward a goal. If you’re working on your health, your Power Hour could focus on meal planning or prepping. It could be your time to exercise. You could also devote 60 minutes a day to creative pursuits such as writing a book or handcrafting gifts.

As opposed to working through a routine, you are instead focused on a single task.

If you’re thinking that the project is so big that even an hour a day won’t be enough, consider where you could be a year from now if you devoted 365 hours to your goal. If you still feel stuck, break down your goal into steps or tasks that can be completed in approximately thirty minutes.

​Yes, your to do list may get a bit longer, but it will be more doable. I don’t know about you, but I have the bad habit of listing projects that could easily take 20 to 30 hours as a single line on my to do list. Not only does this waste my time (each time I go to work on the project I have to figure out what I need to do) but it’s discouraging because that same list item lingers on my to-do list with no acknowledgement that I’m making any progress).

How to Use a Weekly Power Hour

Your weekly Power Hour can focus on working toward a goal or it can be used to power through random tasks that aren’t getting done.

First, do a brain dump that helps you get all those tasks on paper. You can also continue to add to this list. Focus on listing actionable tasks as opposed to dreams or things that you’d like to do “someday.” (Of course, if you want time to research or plan ways to reach that aspirational goal, you can add those dreams to this list.)

Next, go through your brain dump and attach deadlines or timelines to any task that must get done by a certain time. Consider if an hour a week will be enough time to make the progress that you need to achieve.

​Power Hour is also a great way to push through those random tasks that you never seem to find the time to work on. These could include household chores that need to be done monthly, quarterly, or yearly. You could use your 60 minutes to make a series of phone calls to set up appointments (or to make that call that will involve being on hold for a half hour).

Plan Your Time Block

Whether you’re working with a daily or weekly Power Hour, you want to go in with a plan to make the best use of your sixty minutes. You may just need to plan a daily Power Hour once and you’ll be good to go. Or you may need to do some tweaking to find the pattern of activities and materials that work best for you.

​If your weekly Power Hour involves a different action each week, then you may want to create your plan of action before you start or you could make planning how you use your first focused hour.

One. Set or Schedule Your Time. 

You are more likely to do the tasks associated with your Power Hour if you schedule this like an appointment. Seeing this commitment in your calendar can boost your motivation. For daily actions, try to do them at the same time each day. This eliminates the “now or later” debate that easily leads to procrastination.

​If you are retired, work from home, or otherwise don’t have many hours of your day planned out, then you could plan to accomplish your Power Hour within a broader block of time – morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, after dinner, etc. If that doesn’t work for you, set a specific time.

Two. Write Down Your Intention.

An intention is a sentence or a few that details what you’ll do (in what order), when, and where (and perhaps with whom). If multiple steps are involved, you may want to list them so that when you get caught up in the work, you don’t forget something that needs to get done.

​If you need specific materials for a task, list them or gather them. Your goal is to work without distraction. Getting up to root around to find a phone number, website, document, yoga mat, journal, file, etc. means that you aren’t achieving what you intended to accomplish in an hour.

Three. Eliminate Distractions.

Checking your emails during your Power Hour is a distraction. So is allowing others to talk to you. If you are concerned that you’ll get an emergency call during your Power Hour, look online for how to allow specific phone numbers to come through when you’ve silenced your notifications.

  • Close the door.
  • Put up a literal “Do Not Disturb” sign. (You could even note the time when you will be available.)
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones if you can’t go into a room and close a door.
  • Wear ear buds and listen to music with no words. (Personally, I find listening to music through ear buds more effective than simply having music playing through a speaker as background sound.)
  • Silence notifications on your phone or computer.
  • Have a piece of paper and pen nearby to note any thoughts or tasks that come to mind that you don’t want to forget. Remember, jumping onto Amazon “for a second” because you just remembered you need to order printer ink is a distraction.
  • If you are decluttering and you find yourself distracted by the other piles in the room, cover the most distracting ones with sheets or tablecloths. You can't see those piles so you can focus on the one you are working on at the time.

Now, get to work.

Use a power hour to get things done toward your goals and everyday tasks.

Other Productivity Techniques to Try

You want to leave your Power Hour with a sense of accomplishment. Even if you divide your time for meditation, yoga, and journaling, you will still end your hour feeling that you did something good for yourself.

Some other productivity techniques that can support Power Hour include –

Eat That Frog.

The takeaway from the Mark Twain saying that uses this phrase is the idea of doing the most distasteful or difficult tasks first thing, so you don’t spend the day dreading it. This doesn’t mean that you need to roll out of bed and focus on that work project before you even jump in the shower.

Instead, after you do your morning tasks and routines and you’re ready to segue into work, you plan a Power Hour or two for that task that you need to get done but dread doing and are likely to procrastinate.

Use the Pomodoro Technique.

Pomodoro’s are 25-minute focus blocks followed by five-minute breaks. You repeat this pattern four times (for a total of two hours) and then you give yourself a 20-minute break. You then have the option of doing another Pomodoro sequence.

To use this technique, you focus on breaking down a big project into chunks that you can get done within 25 minutes. You build up a sense of accomplishment because you can see the progress you’re making toward that larger goal.

Go Into Monk Mode. 

If you have a big project you’re working on, going into monk mode is all about focus. The idea is that you dedicate yourself to a project or pursuit by eliminating distractions. Depending upon your intention, you could live in monk mode for hours, weeks, or years. Since you want to be productive … and avoid burning out, use monk mode as a mindset to reach your goal.

  • State your goal.
  • Create a schedule for when you’ll work on project.
  • Eliminate distractions.
  • Prioritize what task you’ll work on so that you stay focused.
  • Dedicate yourself fully to one task at a time.

Takeaways for Using a Power Hour

  • Power Hour is a tool that can help you develop habits and routines, work toward a personal or professional goal, or simply clear nagging tasks off your to do list.
  • You can have a daily or weekly Power Hour. You can schedule multiple Power Hours into your weekly calendar to establish a pattern to your days.
  • Key points to get the most from a Power Hour –
  • Set your intention for what you will do, when, and where.
  • Gather the materials you’ll need before you start to eliminate wasting time and avoid the risk of distractions causing you to forget what you want to work on.
  • Eliminate distractions by silencing notifications, putting up a Do Not Disturb sign, or even wearing headphones.

Of course, these are general guidelines. How these will work for you relies upon your persistent practice, pausing to evaluate what techniques work for you (and which don’t), and a willingness to make adjustments and try again.

A Power Hour is sixty focused minutes you can use to focus on a priority, work through tasks on your to-do list, or develop routines for living a less cluttered life.
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Hi, I'm Susan McCarthy

Professional Organizer

After years of organizing ... and wondering why I was never organized ... I realized I needed to declutter. But that wasn't the entire solution. I also needed habits so I could stay organized. Wondering why the clutter keeps returning? Let me show you how to become organized. 

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