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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Time Management

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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Completely detach from work to get refreshed and return to work at peak performance.

Some activities that tend to be beneficial include exercising, stretching and healthy snacking.

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Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

90-Minute Focus Sessions
Take full advantage of the energy peaks and troughs that occur throughout your day and correlate your maximum energy levels with your task list, which then gives your productivity a major boost: Work 90 minutes and then rest for 20-30 minutes. 

The human body operates on cycles called "ultradian rhythms." During each of these cycles, there is a peak when we are most energized and a trough when we are exhausted.

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