What’s Your Critical One-Hour Activity that You Need to Do Every Working Day?

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 4a
August 1, 2017

By Dan Coughlin


The problem with business is busyness.

We all face the challenge of keeping our work days from being eaten up with being busy. The angry customer calls, our boss wants something NOW, the computer breaks down, the package that was supposed to be delivered overnight somehow didn’t make it, and on and on. Every day multiple things can take us off track, the week is over, and we never got around to doing the one critical activity that we needed to do.

This requires a three-step process:

  1. Define your role.
  2. Clarify your one-hour daily critical activity.
  3. Carve out one untouchable hour for your critical activity every day that cannot be interrupted.

Define Your Role

Here’s a way to define your role. Fill in the blank in this sentence: I am a professional ______ .

For example, you might say:

I am a professional salesperson.

I am a professional client relationship liaison.

I am a professional operations person.

I am a professional marketer.

I am a professional trainer.

I am a professional executive.

I am a professional manager.

In my case, I see my role as a professional influencer.

Then you have to define what that role does in or for an organization.

Here’s my stab at answering it for these roles:

A professional salesperson convinces a buyer that the value of the product/service being sold is worth the investment the customer needs to make to get it.

A professional client relationship manager works with clients to strategically grow their business in a sustainable way.

A professional marketer explains the change the product/service will make for a desired customer.

A professional operations person develops and executes processes to achieve a desired outcome.

A professional trainer explains the skills needed to do a certain task, and works to develop those skills in other people.

A professional executive makes decisions about what will be done and what will not be done.

A professional manager guides human, financial, and other resources toward achieving specific goals.

A professional influencer impacts how other people think so they can achieve what they want to achieve. This is not about motivating people. It’s about influencing them.

Clarify Your Critical One-Hour Daily Activity

Every role has one thing that has to be done for a minimum of one hour a day no matter how busy the person becomes.

A professional sales person has to feed the pipeline with new prospects. This can include making cold calls, and asking current customers for referrals and then calling those individuals.

A professional client relationship manager has to have one-on-one or small group strategic growth conversations with clients.

A professional operations person has to develop or execute processes to achieve desired results.

A professional marketer has to work on clarifying the change the company wants to make for the customer, and on determining the message to be delivered to the customer.

A professional trainer has to break down complicated concepts and explain them to other people, or practice explaining them to other people.

A professional executive has to make decisions, or invest time in understanding a situation in order to make a decision about what to do or not to do.

A professional manager has to meet with employees on an individual or group basis, or plan an effective meeting with them, in order to guide them toward achieving the goal.

A professional influencer has to clarify the message to send to other people, and then deliver it in an effective manner.

Carve Out One Untouchable Hour for Your Critical Activity Every Day That Cannot be Interrupted

And this is the key step. You have to select one hour in your day to do your critical activity. If need be, communicate to other people that this is your one hour that needs to be uninterrupted. Put it on your calendar. Do NOT allow anything or anybody to interrupt you during that hour. If a thought pops in your mind about something else, acknowledge the thought, and then tell it to go away.

For example, if you are making cold calls and you start to think about an email you need to write to a customer, write down that item, and then go back to your cold calls. Don’t write that email during this hour.


This is not complicated. You know your role, and you know what you need to do. The challenge is to stay faithful to your one untouchable hour every day, and not let other people or your emails and texts take you away from doing what you know you need to do during that hour. It will make all the difference between a great year’s performance and a mediocre one. You can spend more than one hour a day on your critical activity, but you have to spend at least one hour a day on it.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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