Monday Hour One?

I’ve always considered myself a pretty productive person — I kept an organized calendar, I had a running to-do list that I moved through pretty quickly; and I was quick to take action.

That is, until I found out about and eventually implemented Monday Hour One, a system introduced to me during my life coach certification program.

I was, as the kids say, shooketh. I swear I’m now 10 times as productive. 

It’s tempting to think of this as just a time management system, but in my opinion, it’s so much more than that. It takes into account your thoughts, feelings, actions, and results; not just your actions, like many other systems. Put another way, it gets you to the root cause of your productivity struggles; it doesn’t just solve for the symptoms. 

Here’s what’s changed since I adopted Monday Hour One: 

  • Instead of being at the whim of my moods, I started planning ahead and sticking to my plans, no matter what. 
  • Instead of filling up all of my time with low-priority items first, I learned to plan backwards, ensuring that the truly important things in my life got scheduled before anything else.
  • Instead of doing a bunch of random action steps that seemed like a good idea, I learned to first think about what results I wanted to create, then letting the action steps fall into place.  
  • Instead of letting tasks go on indefinitely, I learned to give myself time constraints for every task and project, and stick to them. 
  • Instead of thinking “I’ll just shove this one thing in,” I learned to respect my own time and hold myself to not going over 100% capacity. 
  • Instead of feeling low levels of daily chaos about how much I got done, I learned to trust that I got done exactly the right amount done.
  • Instead of worrying that things might not get done, I learned to rest assured that, if it was on my calendar, I could trust that it would get done.

Let’s recap, in case I haven’t sold you on this yet (seriously?! You’re a tough cookie): 

Before + after:

Here’s what you can create

All of that high-impact, important work that you know will move the needle, but never seems to get done? Done.

Actually making massive progress towards the results you truly want? Done.

All of the constant fire-fighting and chaos? Gone.

Space for your self-care routine of choice, like morning pages, meditation, a nap, or a walk? Done.

The feeling of not being fully on but also not being fully off, like (as one of my clients said) a light switch turned to dim, not providing much light, but still draining energy? Gone. 

Here’s the “how”

  • Every single Monday morning, pull out a sheet of paper or Google Doc.
  • Set a timer for one hour.
  • Write “Result = ” at the top of your page. What result do you want to have by the end of the week and what action steps would make that result inevitable?
  • Write down the action steps you come up with, along with everything you need and want to do that week. (Like…everything, including breaks, personal tasks, down time, and lunch.)
  • Add in an hour on Friday where you can reflect on the week. What’s still lingering? What worked? What would you do differently next week? This is called Friday Hour Done.
  • Review your list: Is there anything currently on your list that you want to dump, delegate, or delay
  • For everything that you’re choosing to keep, allocate a set amount of time. Be the Goldilocks of time: Not so long that you can get distracted and half-ass it; not so short that you feel undue pressure. 
  • Then pull out your calendar and schedule your time blocks, using this question to figure out priority: “If I could do only one thing this week, what from this list would I do?” Schedule it, then ask, “If I could only do two things this week, what from this list would I do?” Repeat until everything on your list is scheduled. 

Hold up! 

Have you downloaded the guide for how to get into a deep work state in 15 minutes? Now’s the perfect time; you’re gonna need it. Go grab it, then head back here. 

Prepare for the following

Prepare to feel completely overwhelmed halfway through the Monday Hour One process. This is part of the process.

(I swear to you—30 minutes in, every single time, I freak out and say, “There is NO WAY that I can possibly fit everything in.” But I do. Every single time. It’s a whole big drama.) 

Know that you will absolutely make “mistakes” at the beginning. You’ll schedule too much or too little time for a task; you’ll forget that your boss always turns the hour-long meeting into an hour-and-a-half; you’ll forget to schedule breaks. That’s the process. That’s why you take time every week to learn and tweak. 

Anticipate that you almost certainly won’t want to follow your shiny new plan. You’ll want to rebel; you’ll think “This is just too constraining,” and you’ll consider ditching it. Remember: That is part of the process, and you can get back on track in any moment.

Lastly, when an inevitable interruption happens, don’t panic. You have the choice in any moment to accept, decline, or counter-offer. Exercise those three options liberally.

My process + my personal preferences

Want to see me actually do this process? Here’s a two-part screencast of me doing this process, for real:

  • Part 1 (5:42): After I gathered my list into one place (pulling from my ongoing Monday Hour One Google doc, plus my inbox), I allocate blocks of time for each task.
  • Part 2 (16:36): Actually putting the time blocks on my calendar.  

(Heads up: This was a particularly jam-packed week; you don’t have to plan as much as I did.) 

Here are a few things that I’ve learned are important, effective, and fun for me. Take what works; leave the rest!

I front-load my mornings and my week, meaning that I’d rather work my ass off first thing in the morning and work less as the week goes on. 

So, Mondays and Tuesdays are usually filled to the brim; Wednesdays are usually pretty full (with more work in the AM); and Thursdays and Fridays are less full, with the afternoons more free. 

My non-negotiables: Sleep; at least three evening weeknights free from work and at least one free from anything scheduled; morning pages every day (with few exceptions). Meditations are becoming more non-negotiable. 

I don’t do back-to-back calls. (It gives me flashbacks of being in an office watching everyone run late to their next meeting.) 

One last note: your top 5 priorities

If you haven’t done it already, I highly recommend working through the Top 5 Priorities Worksheet. It will help you get crystal clear on your top priorities in your life, which will make every single Monday Hour One session even more painless. 

Ready to take this work even deeper, with my help?

Head here to learn about the free, interactive 10-person Monday Hour One workshops that I host on a regular basis.