Schedule an “Empower Hour”

black and white analog egg timer

In my book Better Than Before, about how we can make or break our habits, I write about why I find it so helpful to schedule a weekly “Power Hour.”

The fact is, things that can be done at any time are often done at no time, even things that are important to us. So I keep a list of nagging tasks that I’ve been putting off, and once a week, for one hour, I “power” through them.

It’s surprising how much I can get done in just one hour.

We talked about “Power Hour” in episode 6 of the Happier podcast, and in later episode 277, we talked about a twist to the idea, with “Empower Hour.”

Scheduling an “Empower Hour” is a way to make time and hold ourselves accountable for putting our values into the world.

One hour might not sound like much, but it’s manageable and realistic, and it’s surprising how much a person can get done in one Empower Hour—especially if they do it week after week.

You might use an Empower Hour to:

  • Register to vote
  • Contact representatives about issues that are important to you
  • Do research on organizations or policies—and share what you’ve learned with others
  • Sort through your possessions to identify things to donate
  • Take those items to the donation place or arrange for their pick-up
  • Donate time (volunteer at an animal shelter, serve at a food bank, clean up a park or beach, help out at your local library)
  • Donate skills (writing, graphic design, web development, carpentry, tutoring, fundraising, etc.)
  • Donate money to a cause or organization you support
  • Collect and share resources or supplies
  • Mentor someone
  • Start a social-issues book club
  • Write letters, essays, or op-eds
  • Sign up to be an organ donor
  • Figure out ways to cut down on food waste
  • Volunteer to send postcards or texts to encourage others to register to vote
  • Donate blood
  • Read a book or watch a documentary to educate yourself about an important issue

My First Splendid Truth of Happiness is: To be happier, we must think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

That third element, “feeling right,” is about our values. We’re happier when we feel that we’re doing the right things, that we’re living up to our aims for ourselves, that we’re putting our values into the world.

In the tumult of everyday life, with all its claims on our time, energy, and money, sometimes it’s hard to identify and follow through on the efforts that will make us “feel right.”

For many of us, putting something on the calendar makes it much more likely to happen.

Note: The scheduling approach often doesn’t work well for Rebels, who tend to resist adding items to their calendar. To achieve the same result, Rebels can remind themselves, “This activity is the way I choose to put my values into the world. I’m living up to my identity as an environmentalist/animal lover/engaged citizen/community leader.”

Empower Hour is a way to schedule a bunch of non-recurring, highly diverse tasks, to ensure that we make time to put our values into the world.



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