What Can You Really Accomplish in Just an Hour? How you spend an hour is how you spend a year.

By Dan Dowling

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How you lose an hour is the same way you lose a day -- "God, I've been swiping through Instagram like a zombie!"

How you lose a day is the same way you lose a month -- "Ah, I just didn't really feel motivated."

And how you lose a month is the same way you lose a year -- "Where the hell did it just go?"

Most people will lose their years just as surely as they lose their hours. But if you have dreams that need to be lived and businesses that need to be created, if you refuse to let another hour slip by, these strategies are for you.

So, what can you do in an hour?

Most people have several preset filler activities that end up accounting for most of their hours:

  • Watching TV
  • Wallowing under covers
  • Wandering lost in emails
  • Netflixing
  • Texting four people the equivalent of a two-minute phone call each.
  • Skimming through a dozen self-improvement articles
  • Scanning through a week's worth of Facebook feed
  • Drinking with the same people at the same bar or restaurant
  • Perusing the same sort of news stories, pretending that it's actually new -- gun violence, terrorism, Trump
  • Transitioning endlessly among an array of distractions.

The list goes on and on. Most of these habits are so normalized that we consider our dissipated hours and lives as something less than evil. ("Hey, I pay my bills and feed my family. Besides...everyone else is wasting their lives too!")

But if you're not as happy as you want to be, if you're not as successful as you want to be, if you're not fulfilled as you want to be...low-value habits are your enemy #1. They must be eliminated with a vengeance -- wow, that's dramatic -- and replaced with things that matter.

Related: How to Go From an 8-hour to a 5-hour Workday by Changing One Simple Thing

You can do a lot in an hour.

Here's what you could do for an hour that actually matters:

  • A half-hour meditation and a full workout
  • Cook a week's worth of nourishing food so you aren't filling up on garbage when you're rushed
  • Write eight thank-you cards to strengthen your relationships with friends, family and clients
  • Learn 20 new words and 10 phrases in another language
  • Reflect on your day before bed and figure out how to make tomorrow better before falling asleep reading your favorite fiction
  • Make love with your spouse up to eight times (according to the statistics for average love-making sessions)
  • Have blast burning a thousand calories playing full-court basketball, beach volleyball or whatever your favorite sport is
  • Get lost in nature for a little while to remind yourself what it feels like to be human
  • Take notes on an informative podcast (like Entrepreneurs On Fire) and change the way you think
  • Have a mastermind session with yourself to contemplate realistic-yet-challenging goals to work towards over the next month
  • Reflect on your goals from last week to see where you excelled and how you can improve to make next week better
  • Make significant progress toward every daily goal you've created for your career, health/fitness, fun/self love, learning or giving
  • Finally get that full-body massage you've been putting off for half a year
  • Change someone's life by mentoring them
  • Study up on the skill sets you're learning to expand your business.

Related: My Career in Silicon Valley Taught Me the Futility of 80-Hour Work Weeks

But you'll only make your hours matter to the extent that you displace your time wasters with planned, high-value activities you know you can accomplish in a day. That way, when you're unconsciously reaching to check Instagram or texts, you can shift your attention back to your daily planner, open it up and then do something valuable for an hour. Do something that boosts your confidence -- something that counts.

Limit time-wasters by scheduling your email, text and social check-ins as independent goals on your daily planner. Most of my clients do fine with three to five scheduled visits per day. Also, consider going on a social media cleanse.

Related: New Study Reveals That Using Facebook Diminishes Your Well-Being

You might think an hour is just an hour. But really it's a day, a week, a month and a year. An hour is a life. So don't waste any more of them.

When you really want to get serious about making the most of your hours, you'll commit to an inspiring and uplifting morning routine, then follow it up directly with another hour of real work before you check messages -- like I just did with this article. (Yes, I'm still in my underwear.) So cheers to making your next hour really count...and the next one after that...and the next one after that.

Dan Dowling

Solopreneur, writer, and coach

As a former couch-surfing millennial turned solopreneur writer and coach, Dan Dowling writes on personal development. Visit MillennialSuccess.io and learn how to create your own solopreneur success story.

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