By Graham Allcott Wednesday, 02 January 2013

How to be a productivity ninja

Are emails, interruptions and unnecessary phone calls sucking the productivity out of your work day? Think Productive founder Graham Allcott gives you these metaphorical nunchuks to defeat time suckage.

Take a moment to recall your job description. Nowhere in that job description does it say 'check emails all day' or 'get involved in office politics' or 'procrastinate and surf the internet'.

The truth is we spend a lot of time distracting ourselves at work with things that may occasionally add some value, but that are not what really generates the impact, profit or change that we’re paid for.  We also avoid certain tasks that we know are important, but that make us uncomfortable: there are leaders who hate networking, salespeople who hate cold-calling and writers who are intimidated by the loom of an empty page or screen.  What if there was a way to embrace anything you’re avoiding and be the best you can be?

How would you get your job done if for the next year all you had was a single hour a day?  Or, put another way, if you devoted just an hour of each day for the next year to just a couple of key activities, what would you choose?  Greatness and genius so often come from doing the simple things consistently and well.

So here’s your challenge. I call this the ‘Power Hour’.  A Power Hour is an hour scheduled into your day when you know your mind is at its freshest and most alert. This may be first thing in the morning, or it may be later. The important thing is that it’s fixed into the calendar (in the same way those pointless meetings are!) and that you commit to it. 

We’re often more willing to let ourselves down than let others down, so make sure you keep to the scheduled time at all costs. This is your hour to work on those things that, in a year’s time, will truly govern the level of success in your work. 

Don’t talk about 'getting round to them next week' or 'when things quieten down'.  That magical time of increased attention we often imagine actually never shows up – it’s up to you to create it, in amongst the chaos and information overload of the everyday.

Treat the Power Hour as sacred time and more importantly, as sacred attention. It’s only an hour each day, so if possible for that hour, close down your email inbox, put your phone to silent and if you’re worried about people interruptions, you might even decide to book a meeting room or wear headphones.  For that hour, embrace the things you were avoiding, create magic, make things happen and abolish the ‘back-burner’.

After that, you’re more than welcome to go back to caffeine crashes, software updates, hundreds of CC’d emails and piles of uncertainty.  Do so safe in the knowledge that a daily Power Hour, followed consistently, is enough to create magic.

Graham Allcott is founder of Think Productive and author of ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’

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