Some hours are more productive than others. When you find yourself performing better at specific hours, it’s not just the coffee kicking in. You’re likely wired to be more focused and productive during these periods. Rearranging your schedule to match your prime work times to meaningful and challenging tasks is how you win.
Priceonomics analyzed 28 million tasks and 1.8 million projects from Redbooth and found that 11 am on a Monday in October is the most productive work hour. Additionally, a Moneypenny survey of 2000 Americans found that the week’s most productive time is 10:54 am on Monday.
However, those numbers don’t represent everyone. Your peak work time is unique to you, and finding it takes a process. This article shows you how to spot those hours and use them wisely.
You might not know your peak hours because you haven’t used them yet. Your lunch breaks may fall in your most energetic moments. So, take your time to tinker around the clock.
Try rearranging your schedule outside your usual work hours and evaluate how you perform. This will be best suited to a flexible working environment. So, if your company doesn’t have a strict office schedule, discuss flexibility with your supervisor.
Be sure to track your productivity as you shuffle working hours.
Things are different if your work-life involves lots of irregular hours and travel. There could be forces preventing you from discovering your most productive hours. So, try to balance things out for a few days and stay on a strict schedule.
The important thing is tracking your productivity, whether you’re slowing down or rotating your work hours. That’s what makes the next tip vital.
You need to track how you spend your day to know when you work better. Of course, you could monitor your time manually to find that sweet spot in your schedule. If you work from home, knowing how to track work time while working remotely will come in handy.
For instance, you can use a piece of paper. First, draw your schedule and write down what you’re doing and when. Then, document your start and finish times and note how you feel at intervals.
While the manual method works, a digital tracker can be more efficient and time-saving.
Time trackers have evolved beyond calculating billable hours and logging timesheets. Instead, the data they generate are treasure troves of productivity insights. They can be used to quantify your productivity and help you find your golden hours.
Some time tracking software applications keep tabs on the programs and websites you spend your time on. This way, they can easily separate your active hours from idle ones. You can then review your workweek or even month to find hours you spend the most time working.
You could also get insights from your employer if they use a remote employee monitoring tool. For example, most of them gather valuable data when tracking the amount of time remote employees spend on their projects.
A time map serves as a blueprint to help guide you through your day. It gives you a snapshot of how you’ll use time blocks and get things done. It shouldn’t be confused with to-do lists and regular calendar schedules. Instead, your time map tells you what next to do even when you have free time on your hands.
Creating a time map involves color-coding your time blocks by type of event. Then, you can categorize your tasks or events by type or urgency level. This way, whenever you glance at your map for the week or month, you’ll have an idea about the number of urgent tasks or meetings on your schedule.
You can use the same color-coding technique to create a productivity map. In this case, you’ll keep different color codes for tasks you complete in time, those you finish with spare time, and when you take fewer breaks.
This way, you’ll identify periods with recurring productive colors as your peak hours.
Things won’t always add up when you track your productivity. Let’s say you find hours when you’re more focused. However, sometimes, you feel physically drained or lethargic. In this case, you can search inward to find out what’s causing the problem.
To ensure you have the tools to analyze such situations, you need a detailed log and journal of how you spend your days.
So, during the week or month you decide to track your productivity, try your best to note things. From your coffee intake to what you eat during lunch, make sure you document everything. This way, you can trace “what’s missing” when you’re low on energy or motivation.
Distractions can prevent you from spotting your golden hours. So, you have to get rid of them.
You can start by dealing with things that will likely get in the way of work later in the day. For example, if you expect an item to be delivered, you can get someone to pick it up.
Block websites and remove applications that could distract you. For instance, you can go offline on your social media accounts or use a website blocker. You can also mute notifications from specific apps on your phone and computer.
Keeping different work and personal devices is the secret for many. This way, you’re separating your work and personal lives and can easily focus on work. You should also create boundaries and let your friends and family know not to disturb you while at work unless it’s urgent.
Creating a dedicated office and sticking to a strict work schedule can help if you work from home. You should also avoid working from your bed, kitchen table, and living room. These areas are rife with distractions, especially if you don’t live alone.
Keep your work area organized to avoid wasting time reorganizing and looking for misplaced items.
Finally, make sure you take some time to rest as fatigue is one of the worst distractors of all.
Finding your golden hours is one thing. Utilizing it the right way is another. You don’t want to waste those prime moments on distractions and less-important tasks.
According to a Stanford University study, there’s a sharp decline in productivity after 50 hours of work a week. It further reported that working beyond 55 hours would be pointless.
So, it’s better to get things done during your few productive hours than waste time working more outside them.
Dedicate your peak time to time-sensitive and vital projects. In the absence of those, use your best hours to tackle tasks that involve critical decision-making, problem-solving, and complex thought.
You can schedule unimportant and routine tasks for other hours. For example, try your best to reroute ordinary meetings and social engagements outside your peak hours.
Ultradian rhythms are cycles of 90 to 120 minutes that run in a typical 24-hour circadian day. According to researchers, these cycles affect our productivity and alertness.
In a typical ultradian rhythm, you’re active for 90 minutes and require 20 minutes to heal – or recover – before the next productive cycle.
So, when you identify your golden hours, try to work in 90-minute bursts and take breaks in-between.
Protecting your golden hours means keeping out distractions the best way you can and avoiding other performance-slowing activities and diets. Take note of snacks and drinks that affect your focus and avoid them. If you can’t cope in a distracting environment, leave for a more conducive one so you don’t waste your prime work time.
You shouldn’t stop finding your best hours. There could be other golden moments lurking around your typical workday that you’re yet to discover. So, take your time to repeat the exercises. Also, don’t forget to use your peak hours wisely. Finally, and most importantly, always know when to rest and recharge.