Could a ‘power hour’ make you more productive? Whether used as a way to help you focus on a particularly arduous task or as a way to power through the least pleasurable to-dos on your list, making one a non-negotiable in your working day could be the key to making the most of your time in the office.
Helping to boost both motivation and concentration levels, we asked a group of industry high-flyers to share their top productivity tips with us. From what a power hour means to them to what they've found works and how it’s helped them to how it can help you, hopefully their advice can provide some ample work place inspiration for keeping stress levels low.
“I try and switch everything off for the first hour – no phone, internet or emails – and really look at what I want to achieve that day,” Cassandra Stavrou, founder of Propercorn
“Productivity is a very personal thing - it’s all about understanding what sort of routine you need to help keep focus and energy. If I’m going to get through my to-do list, I need proper breaks and headspace. This starts in the morning on my commute. I live pretty near the office, so I only have a three-song window in which to set myself up for the day! I really try not to think about work or aimlessly scroll through emails and music helps me keep a clear head and get motivated. Once in work, I try and have a ‘power hour’ right at the start of the day. We work in a very collaborative and buzzy environment, so I’ll be in and out of meetings and fighting distractions all day. I try and switch everything off for the first hour – no phone, internet or emails – and really look at what I want to achieve that day. It’s also a great chance to get under the skin of those trickier tasks that you might have been putting off and that needs total, uninterrupted focus.
“Breaks little and often don’t work for me but proper time out in the middle of the day is crucial. At 1pm our whole office downs tools and has lunch together. Ed, our chef, cooks us incredibly delicious, healthy food and we all catch up about life outside of PROPERCORN. Everyone’s productivity dips before lunch, so you need to properly switch off from work and get some decent food into you before you tackle the afternoon. I can’t claim to have mastered the art of productivity entirely but know for a fact that I’m hopeless on an empty stomach!”
“Diarise it - list it as a 'conference call’ to trick yourself into taking it more seriously,” Hilary Rowland, co-founder of Boom Cycle
“My power hour for top productivity is time by myself in quiet whenever I can get it. My schedule is hectic and different every day and I am always on the run so I can’t set a regular time slot or location. I will duck into a coffee shop, hide away at home for an hour before the day begins or between appointments or sometimes, I even sit in a park or square and hotspot off my phone. The key is to be totally uninterrupted so I can really focus and think clearly. I pair it with a workout most days to get in the added escape/problem-solving time that keeps me in the game. The time I focus on something methodical other than solving work puzzles loosens up my brain so I can think more clearly and the added endorphin buzz puts a rosy glow on everything while boosting my confidence.
“My power hour is often used for the harder, more involved aspects of work. For getting this time into a super-busy schedule, I’d firstly recommend diarising it - list it as a 'conference call’ to trick yourself into taking it more seriously and if anyone tries to hijack your time, you can show them your diary and say, ‘Sorry, I have a call in 5, I’ll have to get back with a time to discuss this….’ and go get that power hour for yourself. Secondly, if you have not had the chance to diarise it, check the day’s schedule and look for opportunities based on time and location. Thirdly, learn to see this time as a smart and necessary investment in your productivity and happiness. You are literally doing this to be a better and more productive person and you’ll likely be a nicer person too because you’ve relieved some of the pressure from yourself. You can’t pour from an empty glass and if you’re unhappy, there’s no point to any of it.”
“My biggest productivity tip is my ‘2 minute rule’ when it comes to emails,” Kirsten Carriol, creator of Lanolips
“My power hour is when I’ve had my first coffee, I’m rested and my head is clear but I’m also running on triple speed. I’m the first one into the office so it’s super quiet. I firstly power through my emails from the USA which have arrived while I was sleeping, and then plan my to-do list and priorities for the day before the madness starts. I have a ‘2 minute rule’ when it comes to emails. If you can respond and action something in two minutes, it’s best to just get it done straight away. Then you have time later on to concentrate on the meatier business issues.”
“Turn off all notifications on your mobile for Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and email,” Pip Murray, founder of Pip & Nut
“When I know I've got to bash out a load of emails or plough through a heavy duty document, I make sure to get into work an hour earlier than the rest of my team and crack on with it before starting anything else. There's something really tranquil about working in my office when no one else is around and it means I can clear my head and work on the most pressing things without any of the distractions that inevitably come my way during the course of a day.
“My top productivity tip would be to turn off all notifications on your mobile for things like Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and email as each time a notification pops up, it can disrupt your train of thought and can take up to 15 minutes to get your mind back into the task. By turning these notifications off, it'll mean you are more likely to focus on your tasks, rather than being distracted by other people's demands.”