Core hours are a proven technique to help you be as productive as possible with your most valuable resource: your time. We all have the same 24 hours every day, but some people seem to accomplish significantly more in the same amount of time. The difference is simple; how they use their time is more focused and structured, which empowers them to accomplish more. Core hours are blocks of time that you schedule intentionally to do focused work without distractions or interruptions.
Turn off alerts
Humans can't multitask, so; please stop kidding yourself that you are getting more done when you attempt to work on more than one thing at a time. Studies have shown that each additional activity you engaged in (like social media alerts or reading an email while on a call) distracts your focus reducing productivity by 20%. That lack of focus is compounded with each additional 'multitasking' you attempt. If you don't believe me, try this little test. Start a timer and write the planets starting at the sun, and once you reach Pluto, begin writing the months of the year in order and stop the time when you reach October. Remember your time and start again, this time, however, you will write one planet followed by one month in order. So the sequence changes to Sun, January, Mercury, February, etc. How much longer did it take when your mind had to switch between planets and months?
Schedule For Success
Block out core hours in your schedule so that you have allocated the time to do deep work. Your daily calendar is similar to an empty closet in your home, meaning that if it is empty, it will get filled with junk that is wasteful and unorganized. Time is your most valuable resource. Time is more precious than money or fame, but sadly, most people don't realize that this finite requires budgeting intentionally with the same diligence as your finances. To make the most of your time, schedule creative work, or challenging projects early in the morning. We are mentally at our best in the first 90 minutes that we are totally awake, so don't waste it with the news or reading emails. I schedule a two core hour block every weekday first thing in the morning. During that time, I have no distractions. My phone is in airplane mode, and all alerts on my computer's record turned off, enabling my focus and getting me into the flow state efficiently.
Set a Timer
To achieve the flow state, where you are doing the best work as efficiently as possible, requires concentration, and when in the flow state, time can fade away. In college, I could easily spend 12 hours in the darkroom working on a photographic print. I would become so engulfed in the work that I forget to go to class and go all day, not even stopping to eat. Now I use an hourglass to keep track of the time without continually looking at my watch (at timer works fine, I prefer the hourglass the same way I prefer vinyl over digital music).
Every day is a gift that grants us 86,400 seconds each day, and tomorrow is not guaranteed. How will you spend today?