One of the most obvious productivity hacks is to work when you’re feeling your most productive. But everyone has a different answer as to what time of day that is. The truth is everyone has their own most productive time of day. From early morning to late in the evening, everyone has a productive period, even if it might not seem like it. Taking advantage of that period helps you schedule your time more efficiently.
Test Different Times of the Day
You might think you’re definitely a morning person, but have you ever tried working later? On the other hand, if you usually work late at night, have you ever tried working earlier?
The problem for most people is the same schedule is supposed to apply to everyone. You work eight-to-five or nine-to-five. That doesn’t mean that full period is your productive time of day. In fact, it could be a few hours in the middle of the day and a few more later in the evening.
Try testing your productivity throughout the day and night. If you have a truly flexible schedule, you can even test out those extreme early morning hours that night owls love so much.
Pick Several Tasks
To really test your productivity, pick several tasks that tend to take the longest and require the most focus. When you’re at your most productive, it’s much easier to stay focused, leading you to work faster. This is why experts say you should always tackle your hardest tasks first to avoid getting distracted or too tired to handle them later. During your most productive time of day, you’re more alert and more capable of tackling harder tasks.
Keep a Journal
It may sound like too much work, but keep a journal during your tests. You don’t have to write your life story, but jot down notes about how things are going.
For instance, during 3 PM and 5 PM, how focused were you? Were you more likely to jump at the chance to scroll through Facebook when a notification went off? Did you feel tired and sluggish?
Making these notes over a period of a few weeks helps you see when you’re naturally distracted. You’ll also notice periods where you seem more alert and accomplish tasks faster.
Track Your Time
Time trackers are your best friend when finding your most productive time of day. While testing, try to work as normally as possible. When you start a task, set the timer, but don’t try to hurry through things just to finish faster. Instead, work like you normally would. The idea is to see when you complete the task the fastest naturally.
You can keep it simple by using the stopwatch app that comes on most smartphones or just jot down the time on the clock when you start and finish. Of course, there are always apps to help too, such as:
Not only should you track individual tasks but also when you get distracted and for how long. You’ll learn what times of day you’re able to recover from distractions faster.
Analyze the Results
After a few weeks of testing, look at your time throughout different parts of the day. Note distractions and how quickly you accomplished tasks. Also pay attention to how many tasks you completed during certain periods. These should stand out, as you’ll have accomplished notably more tasks.
It may take a few hours to dig through all the data, but when you’re done, you’ll discover your most productive time of day. In fact, you may even find you have two or three productive times scattered through the day. Some people have a morning and evening period, for example.
Once you know when your productive times are, schedule your tasks accordingly. You can still work during other times, but save your hardest and most important tasks for your productive times. This helps streamline your workday, making you more efficient.