Skip to main content

Want more time for your projects? Try the 'Hour of Pain'!

Do you find your day being broken up by interruptions, stopping you from getting on with your work?

Continuous improvement projects often fall foul of this. The day can become so inefficient through the constant stopping and starting that we only just seem to have enough time to get the 'day job' completed.

I was in a meeting last week where this same issue cropped up. It also cropped up today. It's nothing new, but it is still a pain in the rear!

So, let me share with you an approach that has worked for my clients - the 'Hour of Pain!'.

How it works

This approach is for those of you that have colleagues in your business that have a similar issue. This only works if there are two, or more, of you that want to conquer the same problem.

Determine how much time you want to spend on your work / project / thinking and give your phone to the other person. For that time (typically an hour - hence the name) you are free to lock yourself away and get on with whatever it is that you need to do. When the hour is finished you get your phone back.

If this is a true partnership you then swap and take the other person's phone for the agreed length of time, hence subjecting yourself to the 'Hour of Pain'.

Is this really better?

Some people wonder if this really is an improvement, as you are still at work for the same amount of time. The short answer is 'yes'.

This approach works because most people just won't get a bigger task started if they are inundated with people stopping by, or if the phone is constantly ringing / pinging.

A blocked out period of time can be used to great effect if you are disciplined enough to use it. Having a reciprocal agreement with one of your colleagues adds a little pressure - so if you don't use it properly you might find the agreement coming to an end.

I have seen projects that have been stalled for years reaching their conclusion in just a few weeks with this approach.

I have witnessed improvements that have been under people's noses become a reality within days, just by blocking out some time.

And, I have seen chronic complaints disappear overnight, because some time had finally been spent on the issue (just imagine all of the happy faces!).

This approach can work, if you can find someone to share the 'Hour of Pain' with, and figure out an arrangement.

Can you apply this idea into your business?


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Discover practical improvement strategies to drive up productivity for both you and your business. Access the free tools section today by clicking here.

Popular posts from this blog

The Kaizen Checklist is here!

Do you want to get better results from your Kaizen programme? Improve your business results quickly with my downloadable kit (including guidebook, workbook and templates) for only $39. Are you looking for a sustainable way to identify and implement improvements across your business? Practical improvement strategies The Kaizen Checklist is a downloadable kit that you can use with your management team to develop a system that suits your business and allow you to quickly implement Kaizen effectively at your place of work. This works great if you use it as the centre piece of your own internal workshop. The kit includes a 40 page guidebook, a workbook, four appendices and three templates. All parts of this kit are designed to get you up and running as fast as possible. If you are unfamiliar with Kaizen, let me stress that this is a simple improvement philosophy that is so much more than just  ‘a Japanese word for continuous improvement’. I’ll cover what it rea

Do you need a burst of improvement ideas for your business?

If you haven’t created your improvement action plan for 2020 yet then I have something for you. I have just completed my latest project – The CI Focus Tool . This Android App is now available on Google Play and provides a simple method for generating as many effective improvement ideas as you need. This is the same basic method that I describe in my book Effective Continuous Improvement  and is now available as a simple to use app. In essence it is a brainstorming focus tool. Press the focus button and you will be presented with a random continuous improvement focus. Brainstorm ideas around this focus with your team (whilst the timer is running) and there you go – a number of great ideas for you to prioritise and implement. The reason that this works so well is because of the focus. When your business runs out of its immediate problems to fix you need a different strategy. Very focused brainstorming helps you break past this problem and configuring the app to meet t

Take the pressure off! Using the Y-curve with your Kaizen improvements

Do you feel under pressure when you have to make changes happen in your business? It can be scary when we try something that we have never done before. I remember thinking to myself 'how on Earth am I going to figure this out?' on many occasions. I think the last time was a few weeks ago! Years on from becoming reasonable at the art of change I am still faced with the same dilemma. It is scary and it is clear to me why so many people shy away from making change happen. It is natural to get stuck in this oscillation. On one hand you need to make change happen; the business needs the improvement benefits. On the other hand you don't want to screw up... Last week I was talking to a young engineer that I am mentoring. He was paralysed. Changes were not happening at all. There was always some early promise with his projects and then, as completion (and judgement day) loomed, progress would evaporate. The engineer asked me for my views on this  during a recent conversati