How one hour can change your life

What would you do if you had one hour each day to yourself?

As I was reading The 4% Fix by Karma Brown, she talked about how she changed her life by setting aside one hour in her morning to work on her goals and projects. She calls this the 4% fix, as one hour is 4% of your day. By setting aside one hour in the morning, she’s been able to reach and surpass her goal of publishing multiple books.

This is not a book summary or a review. This is simply a discussion of ideas that made the greatest impression on me when reading this book.

Photo by Who’s Denilo ? | Accessed on Unsplash.com

Main impacts

  1. Be intentional with your time.
  2. Mornings are important!
  3. Start small and be kind to yourself.

Be intentional with your time.

One of the most important messages in this book was to be very deliberate about how you spend this hour. Having an extra hour to work on anything is precious, and use it accordingly.

Pick a project or goal

Generally she suggests that you use this extra hour for a project or something special. Pick what you want this hour to work towards. If you have a dream goal or project, spend it on that.

You should have an overarching goal or project that you’re working on. Maybe it’s working on a skill, or exercising, or even just having quiet time to reflect.

Plan the details

Once you have a general guidance on what this hour is for, plan each morning and plan exactly what you want to do. That way you can wake up and get straight to it. This hour is precious, and you want to make the most of it. The best way is to show up prepared with a plan of what you want to accomplish.

If your overarching goal is to write a book, plan which days you are writing, editing, and planning. If your goal is to run a triathlon, plan which days you’re going to run, swim and bike; and then make sure your equipment is set out the night before. Make it easy to get started in the morning.

Part of spending this time intentionally is also to make sure you don’t get distracted by other things. Don’t spend your time with little tasks or with busy work. Don’t open your emails or be tempted to respond to people. Don’t open social media. Avoid all distractions, so that you can completely focus on your intended goal.

Mornings are important!

So I know a lot of people don’t consider themselves morning people (including myself!), but apparently mornings are one of the best times for this kind of deep work. There is a lot of science behind why mornings tend to be the best time to work on creative projects, so let me give you some examples. I don’t have links to the studies that back these up, you’ll have to read her book to get more details.

Reasons to take time in the morning

One key part of mornings is that you haven’t had to make many decisions yet, so your decision making ability hasn’t been exhausted. You’re also less fatigued and you have more self control. Your mind is not exhausted from all the little things that wear you down during the day. This makes it a good time to focus on work that requires both willpower and brain power; you tend to have the most in the morning. Honestly, this is the strongest argument I’ve heard for doing deep work in the morning, it makes sense that the hundreds of decisions we make each day wear us down by the end of the day.

Generally, people are more creative and active in the morning. Even if it’s not a creative endeavour you’re working on, using more creative thinking can benefit you in all areas. You can use creativity to find innovative solutions, or just to work on a creative project. Either way, mornings are apparently best. Personally, I think this is more dependent on the person, but I think it’s worth trying out all times of the day to see what works best for you (including in the morning).

Finally, it’s usually quiet in the morning and there are less distractions (even if you don’t have kids). You’re likely to have fewer distractions including from messages or people trying to contact you, people are less active on social media, and there are less expectations for you to be available. To be fair, I could see this also being the case late in the evenings.

Now, mornings might not be a best fit for everyone, but they tend to be a really good time deep work. Give mornings a chance! But ultimately, find what works best for you.

Start small and be kind to yourself.

In the book, she also gives practical guidance on how to incorporate this hour into your day, and what’s needed to make it sustainable.

She personally wakes up at 5am everyday, and suggests that you wake up an hour earlier than normal to fit this time into your day. However, waking up an hour earlier usually means that you also have to adjust your bedtime. It’s best to adjust your wake up and bed time together gradually. Start with getting up 5-10 min earlier (and going to bed 5-10 min earlier) and gradually move it up to where you want it to be. If you jump to one hour earlier, you may experience some jet lag-type symptoms, as your body is not ready for that drastic change. But a gradual transition is easier and more sustainable, as it gives your body time to get used to it.

Also, be kind to yourself! It’s okay to start small, and you’re not going to be perfect. Sometimes you won’t be able to wake up early, and that’s okay. It’s better to be kind to yourself and be persistent than judging yourself harshly and giving up. Most importantly, find what works for you. Everyone is unique and there is no one size fits all solution.

Final thoughts

I thought this book was quite practical and useful. It walks you through why it’s useful, how to make the most of it, and how to build the habit. I think there’s some pretty good advice in here. I don’t know if I’m going to start waking up at 5am everyday, but I do think I’m going to try using my mornings more deliberately.

What do you think about this practice?

What would you do if you had one hour to yourself each day?

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

References

  • You can find the book here.
  • You can see all books by Karma Brown on Goodreads here.
  • You can follow Karma Brown on Twitter here.