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What can you do in an hour?

Updated: May 17, 2021

An exercise in productivity and efficiency.

It’s interesting to ponder what one can achieve in an hour, or maybe it is just me. Sometimes, an hour is very short amount of time and at others it feels like an eternity. Obviously, it is no different in its duration, but our perception can drastically differ.

Human beings seem fascinated by the record of time, especially with the hour period. A lot of what we do and how we do things is broken up by the hour. We are (usually) paid by the hour, though salary has attempted to avoid extra costs by paying people a set wage regardless of hours worked. Billable hours, productivity and efficiency reports are the hallmark of the modern managerial world.

News is still delivered on the hour, though with the advances of the internet it is practically continuous. Clocks still chime on the hour. Most popular TV shows run for an hour. Most of the music playlists I listen to are hour-centric. I work out how many pages I can read in an hour (and then compare it to how many I have actually read in that hour).

Our constant concern for some future point has us counting “how many hours until?”; it’s 3 hours until home time, I probably have 2 hours until I have to go to sleep, I have one hour until my boss needs this job finished etc. We’re both consciously and unconsciously concerned with the concept of time and what we can do with it.

The modern push is certainly “more is more” with the hours we have. Everyone is expected to do more with their time. However, in this constant drive for productivity and efficiency in all facets of our lives, I find we’re causing ourselves greater and greater headaches. We’re a fatigued society running on fumes in many ways, though I’m aware some do not have the luxury of stopping at the moment. The big picture all points to this:

The million dollar question is just how much is your time worth?

I believe more people undervalue their time than overvalue it – though you’ll find most people believe they are worth more per hour than they’re paid, but that’s a slightly different argument. What I refer to is how people utilise their time. Now, ask yourself this question: How much time per day do I waste? An hour, maybe…perhaps more?

Now, this is where we can return to the original question, “what can you do in an hour?”, as when you work out what you could do in that time you start to proactively think “well, if I take that hour wasted and put it to better use…”

Wait a minute, Martyn? Didn’t you just say that the constant drive for productivity and efficiency is what is causing us problems? Yes, I did, but allow me to explain. What I am trying to encourage is for people to make better use of their time, not to always be constantly doing something (or feeling like they have to).

Imagine some of your most loved activities, and now imagine if you could have an hour extra of it.

However, procrastination can be the Achilles heel to doing things. I’ve been guilty myself of taking 55 minutes to work out what I wanted to do with an hour of time I had and by then whatever I wanted to do was futile. This is where the problem of choice can rear its head and it has certainly become more pervasive nowadays. You could answer the original question with “anything” really. We need to overcome being lost in thought.

And this is the crux of the problem, we’re living in a world which tells us constantly that we aren’t doing enough and then proceeds to provide us with too many things to do.

People are exhausted by what they do and then are more exhausted and overwhelmed by thinking what they could or should be doing. Which is why a substantial amount of people choose mind-numbing entertainment to occupy themselves as they’re worn out and don’t want to think.

I undertook this exercise to write this week’s post in an hour and we’re down to the final five minutes so I better wrap things up. Usually my posts take far longer to compose due to idea rumination, articulation and research, but I wanted to test myself and see how productive and efficient I could be in only giving myself an hour to complete the task.

I’ll let you be the judge in how well I’ve done, but in the meantime, work out what you can do in a hour and find out where you can get and then place that hour. Your time is far more valuable than you realise.

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