The best time of day to work: when and why

16 November

Some of us are early birds, and the others are night owls. But no matter which one you are, if you’re looking for productivity advice, you will find tons of articles that will suggest sending your emails before 8 o’clock or not planning meetings on Monday.

But does it really matter? Is it true that some tasks should be done earlier in the day, and the others later?

Many believe so, but Daniel Threfwall of the Huffington Post thinks that this is very individual and the discovery of your optimal work time is the result of a thorough self-analysis. It’s not about making a strict schedule, he says, but about discovering your habits and observing your behavior.

He suggests two questions to guide you: “when during the day do I have the greatest amount of energy and concentration?” and “when do I have the fewest interruptions and distractions?”

 

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Both are of utmost importance, since the first one lets you know when you’re at your peak, and the other one helps you “shut down the distractions that cripple concentration.”

After you have found out the time of your optimal productivity, prioritize. “Not all work is equal,” Daniel argues. He says you should do the most challenging tasks at the time of your most considerable energy, and always do these before any others. You might think that doing the most challenging work first will drain you by the end of the day, but in reality, as Brian Tracy explains in Eat That Frog, getting rid of your most significant task for the day will leave you even more energized.

 

There is only one universal limitation, applicable to everyone: a 24-hour day. We must find the way to work most productively during these hours. If after carefully inspecting your lifestyle you find out that the usual nine-to-five work schedule is right up your alley, then so be it. But what if your work juices flow the best way past that time?

That’s where creativity is to your advantage. What if you are the new Nelson Mandela, who started working at 6 am, worked till 3 or 4, and managed to do more than most government officials of his time? But don’t forget: if you have discovered when the time is best, commit to it. Routine reinforces neural circuitry, and the more you work at the same routine, the stronger those connections become. Your brain loves habits.