Secrets to Success

John-Paul Micek

How to gain 4 efficient
hours in your workday

You've heard me say it before. You can gain control over your workday and achieve more in eight hours than the average person does in a week. Simply identify, and then eliminate those daily activities that don't add anything to the achievement of your long-range goals.

Yet as effective as this foundational strategy can be, it has its limitations.

In fact, I can almost hear you thinking, "I'm already optimizing my time at work. I know there has to be a way I can accomplish even more each day, yet I don't see how I can squeeze another four hours on top of my already busy workday."

Those types of thoughts wouldn't surprise me at all, because I've faced the same disillusionment myself. But try applying this aggressive time-leveraging strategy: One morning hour equals two evening hours.

If you give your all during the conventional workday, it's likely you'll be less mentally alert in the evening, so why try to fight nature? And why do battle with the constant annoyances and interruptions of the accepted business day? Rise one hour, an hour-and-a-half, or even two hours earlier. You'll accomplish as much in any given morning hour, than you will in any two evening hours. It's why the world's top super-achievers can be found in their offices hours ahead of "the herd." If you want to join them, it's why you should be found there too.

Sun Tzu, in the 2000-year-old masterpiece "The Art of War" would call this strategy for approaching your day, a battle on "Deep Ground." This is defined as territory that you can quickly gain by penetrating deep into hostile territory, ground that's virtually impossible for the enemy to regain.

It's same thing with your average workday. If you start your workday when everyone else does, or even a half-hour earlier, you'll be trying to win on what Sun Tzu calls "Encircled Ground." This is territory where once you're in it, victory is unlikely and escape is tortuous. It's territory where small, annoying forces can inflict heavy casualties on even the strongest army.

Now take these metaphors and think about your average workday. Even the most efficient person will loose the upper hand to the "busy-ness" of the average workday. If you try to optimize the hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. beyond a certain point, you're fighting your daily battle to succeed on Encircled Ground. And on Encircled Ground you will slowly be conquered.

The key to achieving more in a workday lies in your willingness to fight the battle for lasting achievement and gain Deep Ground before the enemy knows what hit them. This can only be done during the hours before the average workday starts.

Begin to apply this strategy by arriving at your office just one hour earlier each morning. Use this time ONLY for completing actions linked to your most important long-range goals. Within just a few short weeks you'll prove to yourself the exponential value of your early morning hours. And your hunger to take even more Deep Ground each day will increase.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is a small-business strategist
and chief operating officer at RPM Success Group.
Reach him at
or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer
of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach
and life strategist. Reach her at
or (888) 334-8151.


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