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When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus

Personal Productivity Curves

A lot of the internal things that affect our productivity are out of our control. Our energy, focus, and motivation follow their own path or “productivity curve” throughout the day. 

  • Fighting against your personal productivity curves leads to overwork, feeling overwhelmed, and burnout.
  • If you learn to work with your natural peaks and valleys, it can tell you exactly when you should schedule each part of your day.

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When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus

When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus

https://blog.rescuetime.com/when-to-work-productivity-curves/

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

Personal Productivity Curves

A lot of the internal things that affect our productivity are out of our control. Our energy, focus, and motivation follow their own path or “productivity curve” throughout the day. 

  • Fighting against your personal productivity curves leads to overwork, feeling overwhelmed, and burnout.
  • If you learn to work with your natural peaks and valleys, it can tell you exactly when you should schedule each part of your day.

Energy curves

We’re naturally more energetic and motivated at specific times of the day. Researchers call this our Circadian Rhythm. Every person’s rhythm is slightly different, but the majority follow a similar pattern.

  • Waking up. Our energy levels start to naturally rise.
  • Around 10 am. We’ve hit our peak concentration levels that start to decline and dip between 1-3 pm.
  • Afternoon.  Our energy levels rise again until falling off again sometime between 9–11 pm.

90 Minute Cycles

We work best in natural cycles of 90-120 minute sessions before needing a break. When we need a break, our bodies send us signals, such as becoming hungry, sleepy, fidgeting, or losing focus.

If you ignore these signs and think you can just work through them, your body uses your reserve stores of energy to keep up. It means releasing stress hormones to give an extra kick of energy.

Stress curves

Studies have found we’re actually more effective when we’re stressed. Up to a point.

The right amount of stress at the right time can make us more productive. This requires awareness of your stress levels and how they’re affecting the work at hand.

Communication curves

There’s a simple curve to how email usage affects our productivity. No email = OK productivity. But as we start to use more email, we become more productive thanks to more access to information and collaboration. But this only works to a point.

Once you cross that threshold, more email usage drops productivity to a point where nothing gets done.

When to work

How to design the perfect day based on your productivity curves.

  • Discover your daily energy/motivation curve. 
  • See when you’re hitting your communication threshold. You might want to schedule specific times to check email, like during a break in the morning and again in the afternoon.

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Know When To Disconnect

Recognize when you need to take a break and continue later on when you can be more effective. Signs that you need to take a break are:

  • Struggling to focus continually.
  • If you’re making a lot of little mistakes.
  • When you’re feeling agitated or stressed.
  • If your eyes are hurting.
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Regardless of how you’re feeling, you should take a quick break every 90 minutes or two hours.

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