This is an excerpt from The Simple Leader: Personal and Professional Leadership at the Nexus of Lean and Zen
O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives.
– Jim Morrison
When you think about your days, including the weekends, do you see a pattern of times when you’re most productive? Studies have shown that there is an hour or so each day when we’re especially focused and energetic. For many of us, the time is early in the morning (perhaps a relic of our caveman past, when we had to get out early to find food for the family). For others, productivity spikes at other times of the day. Friends and colleagues have told me that their best times to work are mid-morning, afternoon, or even late in the evening.
Over the years, I’ve found that my most productive time, my “Hour of Power,” is from five to six in the morning. Realiz- ing that particular hour is my most productive, I protect it at all cost and schedule nothing during that time, except for the first and most important (and usually most difficult) of my daily Big Three tasks. I take care of other morning activities such as eating, read- ing the paper, going to the gym, and meditation, before five a.m. Otherwise, they get delayed until afterwards. I also prepare to work on the task before my Hour of Power begins so that I don’t sacrifice any of that valuable time trying to figure out where to start.
During the hour, I remove all distractions and focus solely on the task at hand. At the end of it, I mindfully make a decision on whether to continue. I often discover that I have finished the task. Either that, or I am exhausted and need a break before continuing.
Experiment and discover when your Hour of Power is. Then protect it and take advantage of that period of heightened clarity and focus to give a kick to your productivity.