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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.

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