Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you work best in the early morning, late at night, or in the middle of the day? Most of us know when we have the most focus. No matter what time this is for you, there are strategies to make the most out of your productive hours. And for other times of the day when you can’t meet your top level of attention and efficiency, you can still be productive in other parts of your life and work.
Reflect on what time of day you are at your most productive – and use the strategies below to maximize your time.
If you feel ready to approach the day long before the office doors open, rearrange your schedule to make use of that time.
- Wake up early and tackle your work that takes critical thinking before normal office hours. Since likely you will not be expected to answer emails at an early hour, do not open your inbox so you can focus on the task at hand. This uninterrupted time is valuable and rare so do not let your emails distract you before you are required to respond.
- Find and connect with colleagues who also work best in the morning. When you have a project to work on together or items to discuss, schedule a breakfast meeting before office hours. In this case, not only will you be productive and thoughtful, you will also avoid scheduling conflicts with other meetings.
- If your company has flexible office hours, work with management to plan a schedule that works well for you and your organization, such as a 7:00 am to 3:30 or 4:00 pm schedule.
Does the peak of the day correspond with your peak productivity?
- As often as possible, schedule lunchtime meetings with both external contacts. Lunch meetings are great opportunities for networking as well as discussing deals or partnerships since you have the opportunity to leave the office and meet with those outside of your workplace. Also, sometimes the less formal settings of a lunch meeting allow for an opportunity to build strong professional relationships.
- Direct your attention and focus to professional development by attending a Lunch and Learn session or webinar. Or, if you are an expert in your field, present one yourself!
- The middle of the day is often peppered with meetings, emails, phone calls and other situations that might distract from focused and critical work. If your projects require periods of your undivided attention, negotiate with management to see if you might work from home one day a week, so you can focus on these tasks during your most productive hours in the afternoon.
Do you find your calling in the late hours of the evening and into the night?
- Set a time limit for how late you stay up to work. If you are a night owl, you might feel as if you could work well into the night, long past everyone else’s bedtime. But remember that you still have to rise in the morning – and a habit of working late will make this harder and harder.
- Create a home office space for working late. This way, you will be able to work comfortably at home without staying long hours after dark in your office building.
Though we may feel very productive at certain times of the day, at other hours we may not be able to work at full capacity. This is a good thing – working constantly at our top pace is not sustainable! So how can we use our time wisely and productively during those off hours?
- Spend time with family or friends. If you rise early and are out the door before interacting with your family, be sure to schedule time in the evening to do so. Or, meet up with close friends after working hours.
- Move your body! Working late into the evening? Refresh in the morning by starting your day with a crisp walk outside, or by working out your stress at the gym.
- Hobby work. We need to use the other side of our brain, too! Take a break by practicing a hobby that allows you relax while keeping your mind engaged, like gardening, crafting, or trying a new sport.