Focusing on the “when” rather than the “what” works! Check out the stories here from people who have successfully implemented the First 2 Hours ideas. You can also share your stories on our First 2 Hours facebook page.

Before bed my friend Rosie always decides what she is wearing and eating the next day, otherwise she just can’t sleep. She chooses an outfit, including shoes and handbag, and hangs it all at the end of her closet, closest to where she gets dressed. She prepares her lunch and has it ready in the fridge to collect before leaving for work.

One of my friends, Mahoba, told me that she waited for the third two hours to get a big pile of scanning and shredding contracts done. Before she instituted this habit, the pile just kept getting bigger and bigger because (a) it was a low-priority job that no-one wanted to do and (b) no-one really saw it as their job. The bigger issue was that from time to time someone needed to reference a document that was in the pile and it was almost impossible to locate a specific contract without going through each document, one after the other.

Ivan was in the privileged position of having his own office. This meant he could schedule open- and closed-door time quite easily. However, he found that, even when his door was open, people weren’t coming in. At first, he took advantage of that and extended his first two hours to the next two. Yet he started to feel isolated from his team, and his scheduled one-on-one meetings were a bit stiff.

Dave always checked his email first thing in the morning. His rationale was that overnight, colleagues from all over the world were messaging him with demands that he needed to respond to immediately. When I pointed out that they wouldn’t be reading his emails until 4 pm local time at best, he gawked. That just seemed impossible!

I had a client, Li, who was struggling to value his time. He felt like he never had a chance to get his work done. He was always in meetings, responding to hundreds of emails per day and then working late into the evening, missing out on time with his family. From time to time, he would fl uke into what he called ‘purple patches’ where he was able to be super productive.

My client Simone loves her sleep. She’s a busy working mum who needs to take care of herself so that she can maintain her energy to get through the day — but it wasn’t always this way. She says she used to go to bed around 1 am because she was catching up on work. Then she’d get up around 6 am and get herself and the family organised with breakfast, lunches, and whatever extracurricular activities needed to happen. She always felt exhausted and never quite on top of things. So instead of talking to her about the first two hours of her day, I started with the last two hours.

In an actual experiment by the Israeli parole board, three prisoners who had completed around two-thirds of their sentences were ordered to appear before the parole board (consisting of a judge, a criminologist and a social worker). Read the following examples and guess who you think was the most likely to get their freedom, and why.

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Ivan was in the privileged position of having his own office. This meant he could schedule open- and closed-door time quite easily. However, he found that, even when his door was open, people weren’t... More
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