Written By
Max Brown

05.17.17

Is a Schultz hour a productivity secret?

One of the most highly functioning and collaborative teams that I’ve worked on had a very simple cultural norm: we left the office for a full lunch break every day. Even on our busiest days, we took the time to get out of our own heads, reflect on current work, and offer each other different perspectives on particularly tough candidate searches. Our productivity never suffered because of this. In fact, we soared. We’d return to work refreshed because we spent time thinking strategically, rather than just spending time plowing through a task list. In essence, we took a Schultz hour.

How does a Schultz hour increase productivity?

David Leonhardt of the New York Times describes the time that George Schultz, Secretary of State in the 1980’s, carved out in his week for undisturbed, quiet reflection. He credits this time with taking him out of the day to day grind and letting him think clearly and strategically.

This is particularly relevant for founders starting their companies on the side. With pressure from what amounts to two full time jobs, it can be easy to fall into the trap of continually depriving yourself of mental breaks from the office all in the name of productivity. There are 24 hours in a day, and sometimes it seems like the most successful founders figure out how to use most of them to focus solely on task completion. But driving on a consistently low gas tank isn’t a way to get you to your destination faster; it’s a great way to end up feeling empty.

Incorporating the Schultz hour into daily life

This doesn’t require a huge lifestyle change. Even if you’re just commuting to work for 30-40 minutes, you can still take time listen to a TED talk for 20 minutes and take the next 20-30 minutes to think about it. Take the time to practice this quiet reflection. You’d be surprise how much it can positively affect your output.