Squeeze in one more project.
Squeeze in a few extra minutes.
Squeeze in another quick meeting.
Everyone’s squeezing, but where’s the juice?
As workers, we’re at a loss.
When will we have the time–and energy–to work on our best ideas? How do we come up with the stuff that excites us and moves our respective businesses forward?
Mission statements, values and OKRs all praise “innovation” and “smarter strategy.” But usually the hard work to get there is punted. Even Google’s famous “20% rule” was urban legend.
That’s why I like the 90-90-1 rule or productivity.
What is the 90-90-1 Rule?
The idea is simple.
Commit the first 90 minutes of your day for 90 days to the most important task. Suggested by HR guru, Robin Sharma, it will focus your priorities before the day even really gets going.
What That Looks Like In Reality
As a leader, you have the unique opportunity to set the tone and to maximize the ideas of your collaborators. Here are some steps you can try.
- Set one goal for each team member to work on. The results won’t be obvious right away, but the long-term effects will be noticeable.
- What should those goals be? Devote 90 minutes to long-term goals like ideation, campaign mapping or new project specs. In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport suggests that 90 minute blocks are the best for uninterrupted work.
- Establish a time frame. 30 days? 60 days? 90 days? Obviously the rule is for 90 days, but a month or two will work as well. The key is focused work for a sustained amount of time.
Get The Juice, Without The Squeeze
Ok, you’ve got the goal and general idea. But here are the hacks to make it happen:
- Schedule recurring “meetings” for yourself during the first 90 minutes of your day. Your co-workers are less likely to schedule over you.
- Work somewhere else for 90 minutes. I don’t mean permanently, but if you’re scheduling a 90 minute block of time for yourself everyday, it may help you to move your workspace for those 90 minutes. That helps with focus and limits the number of people interrupting you.
- Two (or three or four) people can work on the same ONE big idea. They may approach the job differently. That’s alright. Find a way to merge them at some point with regular intervals for review. This way you can maximize the potential of the idea and see how it stacks up.
- Be specific on the deliverable. If you’re just experimenting or researching something new for 90 days, be clear on what the end result is, like a report, presentation or spreadsheet. The idea may or not be implementable, but it’ll benefit the whole organization to see the thought process.
- Don’t open emails during the 90 minute block. Emails are like an extra to-do list and can be distracting from the important tasks at hand.
- Move your meetings to the afternoon. The morning is perfect for creation, and 2:30 is actually the optimal time for meetings. By that time, some decisions and work have been made and people want to know how to move forward.
If you haven’t noticed…
These ideas may go against the culture of your company. Use them wisely. However, if you lead a team, you probably have some autonomy–and will see a big change in your innovation and production. And everyone can get behind that.