“First-hour” rule: the key to tackling your toughest projects

“First-hour” rule: the key to tackling your toughest projects


Big projects are scary, no matter how experienced you are. But they can also be exciting. Problem is, we tend to focus more on the size and we get stuck before we even begin tackling our project, mostly because we fear failure.

But what if there was a way to diminish that fear? We all know the “baby steps” approach is a good one in most situations, but can it be the case here? David Kadavy, author of bestseller Design for Hackers, seems to think so and we agree.

Writing for Medium, he promotes what he calls the “first-hour” rule. “With the First-Hour Rule”, he says, “you commit to working on that tough project for the first hour of each day. When that hour is up, you stop if you want to. If you really want to keep going, you do”.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Kadavy stresses two key mechanisms that make this rule work for anyone:

  • It’s a modest goal: It’s hard to start that big project because your brain hates work. The Resistance [aka our inherent laziness] is so strong, it’s better to scan Facebook or watch Netflix, rather than fight it. But your ego can’t fool itself into thinking it can’t work on that project for one measly hour.
  • It builds momentum: Every time you recoil from starting that project, you train yourself to feel negative about it. When you finish your goal of one hour, you feel good about yourself, and you feel better about that project. The work you’ve done carries over into your thoughts throughout the day. The project begins to take up more space in your mind.

That pretty sums it up. It’s a short term goal, easily achievable, which brings you satisfaction and a significant boost of motivation for the rest of the day. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try this!