Research has shown that the traditional 9-5 workday isn’t ideal for most people. Most knowledge workers spend a little less than 3 hours being productive every day, which means that 5 hours are being wasted on a daily basis.
Think about everything you could accomplish if you spent those 5 hours being more productive in other meaningful ways such as going to the gym, spending time with your loved ones, getting a good night’s sleep, educating yourself, or just chilling out.
With today’s remote and freelancing options there is no reason why you should constrain yourself to a schedule that creates so much wasted time and is not optimized for your life’s rhythm.
This is why it is important to find out when you are your most productive self.
Here are a few tips for you to determine your peak productive time and how to make the most out of those hours:
Your biological clock is 100% genetic and it would take immense willpower to turn into an early bird or a night owl. So the best way to go about this is to honestly assess which cycle is most natural for you and to schedule your most demanding tasks when you are at your most productive.
Makes sense, right?
For the majority of people (around 80%) their day follows a very clear pattern:
- A morning peak of productivity that usually starts at around 8:30 am and goes on until 12 pm
- A mid-afternoon slump
- A rebound peak that starts at around 4 pm and lasts for a few hours
For the remaining people, the night owls, their pattern is reversed: a short burst of energy, followed by a slump and ending their day with a productivity peak that lasts for over 3 hours.
What you need to do is to monitor your energy levels closely for a few days and you will know for sure what kind of cycle you have. Once armed with that information you can then rearrange your schedule so that you take full advantage of your high energy hours and take a short break when the slump hits you.
An ideal day for most people would be arranged like this:
- 9 am – 12 pm: Focused, high-value work time
- 12 pm – 1 pm: Answer emails, social media work
- 1 pm – 2 pm: Lunch
- 2 pm – 3:30 pm: Less mentally demanding work such as meetings and administrative tasks
- 3:30 pm – 4 pm: Coffee break
- 4 pm – 6 pm: Focused, high-value work time
This schedule should be used as a starting point to drive your productivity up but to
maximize its benefits you should definitely tweak however you need so that it works with your energy highs and lows as closely as possible.
Pro tip: Your workplace environment also greatly influences your energy levels. This is why it’s important for the workplace to support your varying work needs, from high-focus work to collaborative tasks. The right environment can go a long way in driving or hindering productivity.