The Power of an Hour

What is it?

The power of an hour refers to a study technique for student-athletes that develops discipline in managing common distractions and creates fearsome focus to strengthen your working memory.

The benefits

1. Focus & discipline
The art of ignoring distractions when studying often comes down to being able to control the compulsive urge to respond to messages on your phone, scroll through your newsfeed, or check your email inbox while studying.  The power of an hour study technique structures your study blocks and break times in a way that helps you to practice this discipline, without it feeling like torture.

2. Time optimisation
Think about how much time you perform quality study when you have a 3-4 hour blocks of time when exams are not fast approaching.  Most students answer 1-hour to 1.5 hours of quality time.  The power of an hour technique divides your time into bite-size chunks, which is easier for your brain to manage than an entire 3-4 hour period.  You can then work more efficiently over the entire study period, but also have a number of much needed breaks also.

Think about how intensely you focus and how much you get done when a deadline or exam is looming. The power of an hour technique applies a similar time pressure in a positive way so you can work more efficiently even if no deadlines are approaching.

How to put it into action – Think 45:15

Set-up – 15 minutes 

  • Outline in bullet points what you plan to study in the next 45 minutes.
  • Set-up your desk with everything you need at your finger tips.

Fearsome focus – 45 minutes 

  • Intense study time.
  • Your phone and all other electronic communication should be put aside during this time.
  • Make sure others around you know you are in your fearsome focus zone and talk with you during your break time.
  • You should resist the urge to also leave your desk during this period.

Break – 15 minutes

  • This is your time to release your focus and re-set.
  • Talk with colleagues or friends, respond to messages or emails and move away from your desk.
  • Outline your study plan for the next 45 minute block.


Tips on how to make sure it sticks…

  1. Apply the power of an hour study technique together with the app BeFocused.  Under settings you can set the study/work interval to 45 minutes and your short-break interval to 15 minutes.  An alarm will sound at the end of each interval.  You can also set targets for the day and track your progress.
  2. You may experience momentum after 45 minutes and want to keep going.  Don’t do it.  After one hour your productivity and focus will drop dramatically.  [Tweet “Stick to the plan”]
  3. If you linger and go over your 15-minute break time, you can lose the momentum you built.  Stick to the plan.
  4. Use the app Noisli to curate your preferences for background sounds that can boost productivity.
  5. Freedom and AppCap are handy jailbreak apps for your phone that block any app you choose for a specified amount of time.  Set it for 45 minutes to block WhatsApp or Facebook notifications and stay in the zone until you hit your break.


Dr Jay-Lee Nair PhD | Psychologist MAPS
Book an appointment with Dr Jay-Lee at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre to learn practical study techniques in preparation for exams.