I Found My Two Awesome Hours

Like most of us, I have too much to do.

Way. Too. Much.

Never enough hours in the day or days in the week. Times when I feel like I’m missing out, or I’m working distracted when I would be so much more productive concentrating. Cursed with a recent missing link in my productivity genome, my work life felt out of sync, which meant my personal life did too.

In a frantic search (because it’s all frantic) to find a means to control the chaos, I stumbled across a terrific self-help book that changed my thinking about time and productivity management. I wish I could remember where I learned about this book – probably someone’s blog about productivity – and whoever you are, I would like to buy you a bottle of wine.

Because this book changed my life.

The book I’m discussing is “Two Awesome Hours” by Josh Davis. His framework seems deceptively simple. Identify your top priorities, and use the times of your day when you can be most productive to tackle them. Avoid wasting time on things that aren’t as important. Easy to say, but much harder to accomplish.

Here are how the concepts in his book changed my life.

  • Deliberating my decision points – At times when I am changing gears from one task to the next, I make a deliberate decision about what I should tackle. Sure, it’s easy to sort through emails, tell myself I’m getting something done, and waste valuable energy I could be using to add to word count. When I am moving from task to task, I DECIDE rather than flow along without thinking.
  • Planning my day – On most days, I have a fairly set routine. Depending on how energetic I feel, exercise may come before writing time. On other days, creative sparks fly every which way and I NEED to write because my hair’s on fire. But for the other days, I plan my time, and even though I am self-employed, I make appointments in my calendar for writing, editing, admin, and exercise. And I stick to them.
  • Maximizing my executive function – Did you ever hear a version of this? “I made my 37 decisions for today, and I don’t have any more in me.” It turns out this might be true! We all have limited executive function for things like decision-making, planning, and management. This capacity varies based on other factors in our lives, like stress, sleep, and self-nurturing exercise and healthy eating. Even answering an email requires you to make unseen decisions about wording and outcomes. Writing and editing require me to utilize high levels of executive function. I pay closer attention to the gauge on the tank and when I find myself running dry, I find a way to fill the tank, or do tasks that don’t require much energy.
  • Focusing for my two awesome hours – Every day – and I mean EVERY day – I set aside two awesome hours for focused work. Some days, that work might be new words. On others, it’s editing. Or some other concentrated activity best performed without distractions, either from my outside environment or from my internal noise. When those hours occur depend on what else is planned in my day, but my two awesome hours gets HIGH priority, above almost everything else. I get A LOT done in two hours, much more than I did without giving these hours the gravitas they deserved.

Focus = productivity.

Dr. Davis brings up other great points about the importance of allowing your mind to wander. (Example – I like to look into the distance when I’m trying to work out a plot twist or the next bit of dialogue. Or I pace. Mind wandering…which is absolutely part of the creative process and therefore okay.)

Designing the physical work environment that works best for you will also boost your creativity. (Example – The more cluttered my office gets, the slower I work. Dear hubby, with whom I share an office, doesn’t even see the piles he creates. They drive me crazy – obviously the topic for another day’s blog.) Ditto physical health and mental relaxation.

The book is a fast read, and something I know I’ll return to when I need a refresher. You can find a link to Dr. Davis’s terrific guide to being more productive on my TOOLS tab here on the website.

Find your two awesome hours – and please share your thoughts on these strategies. I’d love to learn your tips for being more productive!

 

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