Optimizing for your Most Productive Time of Day
It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
This week I asked our panel of experts…
“What is your most productive time of day?
How do you optimize and plan for that?”
I think you'll find the responses interesting.
Lou Bortone of Video in a Day says:
I'm a night owl and usually get a second or third wind at 11pm. By then the kids and dogs have finally settled in, the house is quiet, and I can hunker down for a couple of hours of productive time. I set aside the late shift for creative work like copywriting or video editing – stuff that requires the focus I don't usually have during the day. (Did I mention that I have the attention span of a gnat?)
Terry Dean of My Marketing Coach says:
My most productive time of day is late morning before lunch – usually 9 to 12 AM.
Since I'm an early riser, I will usually handle client emails before this. Then I'll exercise, eat breakfast, and get ready.
Then depending on the day, usually I spend that entire 3 hour period writing on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Tuesday and Wednesdays I do phone clients.
Any ‘routine' activities are usually done in the afternoon.
Everyone always seems to tell you not to do email first in the morning, but that all depends on your energy levels. I find email works well for me first thing and then run my most creative periods a little bit later in the morning.
You need to find a system that works for you personally, and then flow with it instead of forcing yourself into someone else's model.
Kevin Riley of Blogpreneur Training says:
I find myself most productive at either mid-morning or late night. When I want to take advantage of this productive time, I do one of the following:
Walk away from my computers and go somewhere quiet to write. This may be my kitchen floor, on the roof of our building, or on a train to one of my favourite hiking spots.
Hop on the computer at my studio (the only Windows computer I have – exiled from my Mac-only office, but loaded with my old MX Flash software) and draw the character drawings I need for my new videos.
Do whatever is on my ToDo list.
Rachel Rofe of How To Get Every Book You Write Onto The First Page Of Kindle says:
I am definitely best in the mornings. I love working from 7am to 12pm.
Some of the ways I optimize are:
– I aim to go to bed before 10pm so when I wake up, I feel rested and ready to go.
– I have my to-do list written out the night before so that I can hit the ground running when I get to my computer.
– I aim to have healthy and nourishing breakfast foods on hand so there's no wasted time thinking about what to eat.
– I don't schedule any phone calls or interviews during that time.
– I do my best not to check email in that period.
– I schedule all of my hardest tasks from 7-12, and do the hardest one first, while I have the most juice.
Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts Podcast says:
My productive times are split. I'm highly functional between ten in the morning and two or three in the afternoon, then I'm back in action after eight at night. In between I may nap or run errands, read and poke around websites ‘for fun'.
I've found it important to embrace the flow of my focus. If I try to push through and work in the afternoon, the work product is not going to be great.
There are exceptions. Sometimes a project is so exciting I can't turn away from it no matter what the clock says. Follow your bliss I say!
Tiffany Lambert of Work Life Balance says:
For me, I have a split level of productivity.
I am most productive on menial tasks in the morning, having coffee, checking email, checking sales stats, etc.
I am more creative and productive with products in the evening.
So I go with the flow on that. I work early and then break for lunch and sanity 🙂 and then get back to work in the evenings for fun stuff I enjoy doing, like working on my Kindle fiction.
Shannon Cherry of Learn How I Get *Paid* to Attend Events says:
I'm a morning person… I always have been. So I work on my most creative tasks in the morning (the ones that need a lot of thought). I plan my week very carefully to optimize my time. Things like social media posting are automated so I only pop on while waiting for the school bus or another time when I am doing something else.
People ask me all the time how I get so much done in my business working only 15 hours a week. It all comes down to this: I choose to make the hours I work as productive as possible. I've created a video with some tips on how to be more productive:
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
I am so NOT a morning person that it's not even funny. But, I've always been that way and love being a night owl.
That said, my optimal working time is between 10am-6pm. Of course, I don't work that straight through though. I come and go from my computer depending on other obligations: kids, puppies, husband, appointments, eating, and overall energy level.
This means that I schedule all interviews between 10 am-3 pm. That works best for me hitting my peak brain time, without conflicting with family time. I've made the mistake of recording interviews in the morning and WOWZA. I had major word soup. Just not a great idea.
I also know that I work really well in bursts so I'm ok with that. However, the bursts are usually determined by me, and not the people around me. If I have interruptions while I'm actively trying to focus, I am not as productive.
What do I mean exactly?
Well, I got on the computer this morning around 10 am, and worked a bit on CoachGlue.com stuff. Now it's noonish and I just took at shower and came to sit down and finish this post. When it's done, I'll reward myself by getting out of my office and checking in on the kids or seeing if some laundry needs to be moved, or checking the mail. Then I'll head back to write my email and get it scheduled, too. I may take a few minutes to check in with Facebook or catch up with texts/calls on my phone, take a bathroom break, get a big glass of water, and head back to my desk for my next big task – or I may call it a day and work on stuff around the house that's more important.
That works really well for me – and my family can usually handle not interrupting me during those spurts.
What does NOT work, as I mentioned, is constant interruptions.
Thankfully my kiddos are old enough to know that I'll pop out of my office in a bit, after my interview, or my writing spurt is done and they'll leave me to work. Whatever they need, they can usually get on their own, and things like their friends asking to come over can wait 20 minutes. But, that also means that I choose to ignore my phone while in a work burst unless it's a “911” text from a family member or close friend. They know I'll ignore phone calls while I'm working, but if there's an emergency, to text me “911” and I”ll call them back immediately. That's for instances where it's time sensitive and they feel I need to know right away. Everything else can usually wait and can't come ahead of me making a living.
I used to try to sit here in front of the computer and work all day, but I found that I wasn't nearly as productive as when I work in those focused bursts. I've given myself permission to come and go from my office, as needed, rather than forcing myself to sit here so I felt “busy”. Busy and productive are not the same things – especially when running a business.
So, I sprint, recover, sprint, recover, and sprint again. It's what works best for me.
What if I'm working on a BIG project?
Well, when I wrote my book, or when I created larger courses, I break them down into “single sitting' pieces. If I know all I need to do is knock out one chapter or one module or one webinar and then I can go to lunch with my hubby, I can do that. To sit and say “finish this book” – yeah, that's not going to happen. 🙂
I hope this has been helpful. Now comment, share, and then do a money task so you can do something fun to reward yourself.
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In addition to being built around a system designed to motivate you to take more action, the interface helps you get absolutely clear about your day, allowing you to easily visualize your time and accomplishments at-a-glance.
Here’s How This Software Can Help You:
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Click here to
Get More Productive!
PS. Remember, if you want me to keep getting awesome smart peeps to answer questions here, go check out their stuff. 🙂
- Lou Bortone – Video in a Day
- Terry Dean – My Marketing Coach
- Kevin Riley – Blogpreneur Training
- Rachel Rofe – How To Get Never Have a Bad Day Again
- Kelly McCausey – Solo Smarts Podcast
- Tiffany Dow – Work Life Balance
- Shannon Cherry – Learn How I Get *Paid* to Attend Events
I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.
Tiffany LambertJuly 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm
Really interesting to me to read how similar some of us are in splitting up both our work day in terms of time and also in terms of WHAT we work on (separating menial and creative tasks). I think some people just sit down straight through the hours and mix their tasks all over the map. I couldn’t do that 🙂
TiffaniJuly 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm
I have to agree with Tiffany L. I was really surprised at how many people have the split production levels. And seems like similar hours as well. I always felt like i was doing it wrong cause i wanted to stop/nap/goof off after 2…I have now found that a three hours on one hour off will allow me to work in a productive manner without much procrastination.
JessJuly 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm
What if you aren’t sure when your most productive times are? For example I seem to fluctuate it just depends on the day for when I’m being productive and it doesn’t really follow any set rule. Any advice for helping me figure out when I’m most productive?
Tiffany LambertJuly 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm
Personally I go with the flow. If I stayed up late and I’m dragging the next morning, I’ll ease into my work day. If I’m raring to go one morning, I’ll hit it hard. Listen to two things: your body (you need energy) and your mind. If you’re in a foul mood, work on menial tasks like blog setup or keyword research – not creative.
TanyaJuly 21, 2014 at 1:09 pm
I am most productive in the late mornings. Its neat to see how everyone works.
TroyJuly 31, 2014 at 9:59 am
Unfortunately, I’m most productive late nights but my work usually requires that I am up early for meetings starting at 8:00 AM or earlier. Hard to do both without feeling sleepy in the early afternoons.
Alan's Internet MarketingAugust 9, 2014 at 7:36 am
One of my biggest mistakes was always thinking I needed a big block of time but since trying the Eugene Schwartz 33:33 method I find that if I’m short on time I can do one just one block and get something done. Or if I’m low on motivation, I do one block and then things just start to flow. Less a productivity thing and more of a way of working I guess.