Think about this - what time of day are you the most productive? Are you a “morning person” or “a night owl”? Do you “slump” at 3 pm or do you thrive in the mid-afternoon?
Or, do you figure it doesn’t matter, as you decided years ago to adapt to fit your environment?
Often we create a to-do list and focus on completing the most important task first, then the next most important and so on. Or we schedule based on the amount of time available – lengthy tasks fit into big blocks of time; short tasks fit into small blocks of time.
Seldom do we schedule the tasks on our to-do list based on the energy we have available to complete them. Tasks that require large amounts of concentration can be scheduled during the time of day that you feel most alert. Meetings focused around brainstorming can be scheduled when you have a little lower energy – as the excitement of others in the room will tend to energize you. Tasks that require minimal focus can be scheduled during the time your energy is the lowest.
How can you begin to align your task with your available energy? Follow these three simple steps:
AWARENESS – Track your energy levels for the next week. Set a timer to go off throughout the day and make a note of how you feel at regular intervals. Is your concentration level high? Can you focus easily? Are you feeling sluggish? Try to ignore what you think you know – just because you “weren’t a morning person” doesn’t mean you still aren’t. Try this exercise with an open mind. Also, make note of how much energy and focus the various tasks on your to-do list need.
WORK – After tracking your energy levels for a week, draw some conclusions. What pockets of time during the day do you feel the most effective? The least effective? I do my best writing in the early morning. Yet, I find mornings are a terrible time for meetings. I’ve figured out that I’m more effective in the morning with solitary, thinking activities than group thinking activities. Once you have an understanding of your preferences, schedule your tasks based on your conclusions.
EVALUATION – At the end of the week evaluate your progress. What’s different now? What else is possible? What changes do you want to continue to make in the future? It’s important to realize that some of your schedule is already set – so it may take a few weeks to move things around to fit your preferences.
With a little practice, you can align your to-do list with your energy flow, and watch your productivity soar!