How to work when you're most productive. Let's explore simple steps to harness your peak performance.
It will not be surprising to learn that we are not productive 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, human beings are proven to have energetic peaks and troughs during the day, and everyone hits peak performance at a different time. You’re not unusual if you are an evening person struggling because 9-5 jobs have always demanded so much of you in the mornings.
While it is unlikely you can speak to your boss and have them change their entire operating model based on these revelations, it is possible to harness your productivity when it is peaking and better manage your days so that your least productive times aren’t a waste.
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First step: identifying your productive time
This should come to you easily. Take a moment to self-analyse. Ask yourself what time of the day you have the most energy and concentration. When do you have the fewest interruptions and distractions? There is no point scheduling all of your work for the morning when you’re most alert if you aren’t going to be able to get a break from childcare or early work meetings.
Second step: booby-trapping your day for productivity
If you’re in an office – or better yet, working from home – implementing structure around your productive times is very doable with just a little discipline.
Tips to optimise your productive times
- Break your day into ‘bursts’ – Once you understand your productive times, break your day into 90-minute intervals and pick three slots to go hard. If you’re a morning person, schedule 90 minutes at 8am, rest from 9.30 am until 11 am, and then go for another 90-minute session. Your final session then fits in the afternoon. Resting may not mean completely breaking away from work (although that is proven to be the best method); it could just mean strategically scheduling your challenging tasks against your easy tasks. (See more below.)
- Do the right work at the right time – If you work in an office, your work is typically made up of various tasks which require different levels of energetic output. Some will be mentally draining and others mentally exciting. Take on the challenging tasks when you have the energy and the mentally exciting tasks when you need the boost.
- Do the big jobs first - No doubt you have been told this since childhood, but it remains true today. Momentum breeds productivity. Once the biggest job is out of the way, everything else seems much easier to tackle, setting you up for a calmer day ahead without the big job looming over your shoulders.
- Respect your breaks - Your breaks are an opportunity to regenerate your productivity. If you’re still consumed by work, this does not work. Take a nap, go for a walk, get out of the office or at least away from your desk for long enough to feel that you’ve rewarded yourself for your efforts and you can jump back in.
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Tips for a non-flexible work environment
So, sometimes you simply aren’t going to get it your way. This is especially true for mining jobs on site. While you may not be able to structure your day to work around your productive times, there are ‘hacks’ to help you push through.
- Give yourself short bursts of time to focus - Tell yourself you just have to push through another hour, then go for another, and another.
- Take your breaks - Taking your breaks, particularly if you’re working on a mine site, is critical to boosting your productivity when you clock back on and also goes a long way to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
- Get enough sleep – It’s obvious, but while you can’t change your day to fit your productive peaks, make sure you're getting plenty of sleep so that you can pull into those energy reserves when required.
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