Book Review: “The First 2 Hours”

By cryotosensei | diaperfinancingfund | 9 Mar 2022

Regardless of whether I work at Naval Base Pri Sch or NorthLight, I stun my colleagues by proclaiming that I come to school just to get ONE thing done. They look at me, all incredulous, but the fact of the matter is, I don’t think teachers have that much control over our time at work. The prime hours in the morning are already taken up by class bonding times and lessons, and just when you think you have a breather, you are slammed with a relief lesson to cover. On some days, I actually have to strategise when to have my lunch.

So I think dividing my 8-hour work day into 4 portions (Proactive, Reactive, Active, Preactive) mayn’t be applicable to me but there were some interesting insights that I gleaned from the book anyway. For someone who just knows about prefrontal cortex and dopamine, it was enlightening to learn about the hippocampus and neocortex and cortisol (the stress hormone). I particularly liked the idea of a “nappuccino” - drinking coffee before a power nap - so that one could benefit from the double dose of caffeine and rest. Also noteworthy is writing the action required in the subject line of the email itself. Back when I was working in Singapore Polytechnic, I adopted a practice of writing the actual message in the subject line but that seemed to come across as confusing to coworkers in all my subsequent workplaces. Writing something like FYI Only, however, could serve to increase the clarity of my emails. The last tip I aim to incorporate is doing physical mundane tasks right after lunch so that the physical exertion could propel me to round up the tasks of the day (and maybe even plan for the next day ahead!)

Besides these practical tips, I enjoyed how the author paired the nature and intensity of the task with the rhythm of our body’s energy flow, taking into account our need for solitude and companionship. Reconciling our need to do deep work with our desire to be a team player. Recognising that despite all the hiccups and mishaps, it is ultimately up to us to retain some form of control over our work lives.


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