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: 

  • 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:

  • Only getting work done when I "felt like it"
  • Doing the trivial tasks first, and never having space left for the big, important things
  • Leading with action steps that may or may not work
  • Spending "as long as I needed" on every task
  • Trying to fill my schedule over 100% capacity
  • Worrying that I didn't do enough every day
  • Hoping I didn't forget to do important things
  • Planning ahead and sticking to my plan, no matter what
  • Intentionally making space for big, important, high-impact work
  • Determining desired results first, then brainstorming action steps
  • Giving myself time constraints that keep me focused and on task
  • Filling my schedule to 100% and letting everything else go
  • Trusting that I did exactly the right amount of work, rest, and play every day
  • Knowing that if it's on my calendar, it's "as good as done"

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.
  • Start by writing down everything you need to do that week. (Like…everything.)
  • Review your list: Is there anything currently on your list that you want to dump, delegate, or delay
  • I suggest scheduling time at the end of every day or the end of the week to review what worked well and what you would do differently next week.
  • 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. 
  • Schedule a wrap-up hour on your calendar for Friday (this is called Friday Hour One) — what’s still lingering? What will you do differently next week? 

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.  

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 more how you can take all of this work to the next level with procrastination coaching

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