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.
MORE IDEAS FROM When to work: How to optimize your daily schedule for energy, motivation, and focus
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.
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.
How to design the perfect day based on your productivity 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.
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.
It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.
When you fill your calendar with the tasks and things you want to do, it’s harder for others to steal your time.
A good general rule of thumb is blocking out one-to-two-hour chunks of time in your calendar for uninterrupted work.
You have to stay committed to getting into the rhythm. It’s critical to ignore any distractions or desires to stop working.
There is no "one size fits all schedule" for maximum productivity.
Because we all have particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time management and productivity, what works for one person could be a total disaster for another.
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