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Autopsy of a Lost Hour

Ever said to yourself, “Self, the minute I get back from lunch I’m going to sit down and work on the Smith file.” So at 1 p.m. you dutifully sit down to work….and an hour later, you have little to show for it. How does that happen?

Here’s an example “lost hour.” Let’s dissect it minute by minute:

Minutes 1-4:                Quick email check, respond by forwarding a requested document.

Minutes 5-6:                Get more coffee.

Minutes 7-13:              Answer telephone call, send follow-up email.

Minutes 14-22             Open Smith file, review notes from the last time you were in there, decide what to do next, continue drafting.

Minute 23:                   Realize you forgot to send permission slip with your child, call school to follow up.

Minute 24:                   Continue with Smith file. Discover pen is out of ink.

Minutes 25-41:            Work on Smith file – draft 1/3 complete.

Minutes 42-43:            Answer call from spouse on how to change the setting on the hot water heater.

Minute 44:                   New email notification – scan and decide to answer later.

Minutes 45-49:            Back to Smith file. Write one more sentence.

Minute 50:                   Co-worker pops head in to see if you want to join them for lunch.

Minutes 51-58             Back to Smith file. Draft another sentence.

Minutes 59-60             Realize you are out of time before your next meeting. Put Smith file away and search for notes for meeting.

A lot happened but not much got done! Try it yourself; this exercise can be a fun eye-opener to show how and where your focus on a task is “leaking.”