3-minute read - enough time for a quick expresso between your meetings ☕
Time is money, or so they say. Ultimately, everyone wants to make sure they’re spending their workday as efficiently as possible. Are there certain parts of the day that work better for certain projects? Is there one “right way” to structure your workday?
Research from the Productivity Journal shows that people are better able to focus in the morning, but that it takes at least an hour for the brain to completely “wake up” and operate at full capacity. For about an hour after waking up, it’s wise to take on tasks that require less critical thinking: exercising, eating, sipping coffee, doing yoga, etc.
Once you do start your workday and have had sufficient time to wake your brain up, how do you structure the day? There are meetings, family obligations, conversations with co-workers and more to consider throughout the day.
Work schedules aren’t one size fits all. With the surge in remote and hybrid working environments, more people have the option to be flexible with how they go about their day.
Perhaps you’re most creative in the morning and find your best focus during those hours. Or maybe you like to get your socializing done then and then hunker down in the afternoon to work through the bulk of your workload.
The Productivity Journal also noted that we are more likely to self-interrupt (use our phones, get coffee, etc) in the morning than at other times, so it’s useful to implement a focus technique like the Pomodoro Method. This can be helpful for getting bursts of work done in the morning. After a few hours of intense focus, you may find it helpful to take a short break to exercise or go for a walk before diving into your afternoon.
Another method that may be helpful for scheduling your day is called “eating the frog”. Essentially, you identify your hardest and most important task of the day and do that right off the bat, with no excuses and no exceptions. Once you get this task done, you’ll be relieved it’s out of the way and will likely be motivated to do more! Eating the frog puts your priorities first and ensures you get the really important things done.
Beyond just your preferences, there are a few other factors to consider when setting your schedule. Do you work with a team across many time zones? If you live in the UK and have co-workers in the US, you’ll want to take that into account when sending out your Teams Invites.
Time zones can be difficult to work around, but you can also use them to your advantage. For example, I work with a team who’s in a timezone 6 hours ahead of me. This gives me the flexibility to work earlier in the mornings and have freer afternoons. An arrangement like this could be tough for someone who hates early mornings, but for me, it works out great.
You’ll also have to be cognizant of any certain religious or family practices a co-worker has when you’re deciding on a meeting time. Your team members also have other obligations of course, just like you do. Open communication is key here so you don’t run into logistical issues with scheduling.
Ultimately, the optimal way to schedule your day comes down to what works best for you. If you’re more creative in the morning, set aside designated time for your creative projects early on. If mornings are sluggish, use that time to tackle more menial tasks and consider implementing a tool like the Pomodoro Method or Eating the Frog.
When you find what works for you, make it a routine and stick to it! You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you work on a schedule optimized for your own success.