I’ve been reading a lot of articles about maximizing productivity by finding out what are the best moments in your day to reach your highest level of inspiration. Whether it’s coming from Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Leo Babauta or some other inspiring writer, they are all giving wonderful tips if you are your own boss. I believe that finding the best time to get work done is the main key to working less but more efficiently and this is why I have a problem with everything that I have read.
Sadly in almost 100% of the cases, we are expected to be fully in control of our schedule which is not the case yet for many of us. And if people working full-time jobs are mentioned, we are told to find a way to insert personal work into our day either hoping not to get caught or by proving to our boss that we can do both if that manager is open to new work concepts.
I don’t think it’s fair and I feel like a lot of people are left behind in that situation. The most drastic measure would be to quit your job and that’s not so wise if you’re still figuring out your business plan and what are your assets.
What to do
I have a different approach for those of us who need to hack our day to make the most of it. First of all, don’t stop reading those articles and keep yourself up to date on what works or not. Make a list of what would fit better with your personality and interests.
On your next full work week (from Monday to Sunday), start a journal and comment on everything that you can:
- Wake-up time and leaving for work: Do you give yourself time for activities and/or breakfast in between?
- Getting to work time: Is it a little earlier or just on time?
- Lunch hour time: Do you even have one? Do you go out or stay at your desk?
- Back home time: Do you have a routine to eat before heading out? Do you even go out on most days in the evening?
- Bedtime: Do you get in bed when you’re truly tired and stay awake for a while?
- When were your most productive moments during the day? Write it down no matter at what time it happens.
Try to include as much as you can through your day journal so you can get a feel of what are your key moments. Were you going to train at 9 pm but ended up staying in front of the tv? Is it something that happens daily or once in a while? In the middle of your work day, did you get an incredible idea but couldn’t find time to get it started even if that’s all you were thinking about?
After 7 days, you should have an interesting overview of your energy level and mood which can be translated on a board or big piece of paper. You should be able to figure out your most effective hours each day and start planning around them by respecting your work week as much as you can.
With these key moments at hand, it becomes easier to maximize your time for your personal business and finally feel like you’re in control of your day even when at work.
A few examples:
Morning Before: I used to wake up around 8 am on weekdays and take the last 30 minutes to get dressed, eat and read my favourite blogs. I always ended up having a breakfast that was too light to last until noon and I arrived at work at the last minute or even late.
That didn’t leave me much time to get anything done but I liked reading some more blogs before starting what I had to do, which wasn’t before 10-10:15.
After: I usually wake up around 7 am on weekdays. I like to get breakfast in the first 30 minutes and do some stretching or go for a quick swim in my building. As soon as I’m ready, I head to work to get as much personal time as I can before starting my day. I like to get any important blog reading done in that period of time and it’s also my key time to publish a blog post that I’ve been working on before.
From 9:30 to 12:00, I give my full attention to my work and try to get as much done as possible. Most of my time is spent online so I always find interesting articles to read and simply bookmark them for my free time. Sometimes, I get awesome ideas for one of my many projects too and I make sure to write as much down as I can before I forget about it.
Lunch Before: I used to take my full hour off to stream tv shows that I couldn’t wait to see. It gave me a decent break from my morning but it didn’t encourage me to go outside unless I needed to pick up a lunch. I still like to watch some shows but I’ve cut it in half of the time now. By the end of my lunch, it was always passed 1:00 thus it was time to get back to work.
After: At lunchtime, after eating my meal, I like to go outside for a little walk and to catch up on any book I’m reading on my Kobo. I usually have new ideas that pop into my head during that little break and once again, I just make sure to write them down. I usually take an extra 20-30 minutes when I get back to my desk to do some extra research and personal work.
Evening Before: I used to leave work around 5:30-6:00 since I usually started late and once I got home, I would cook anything fast to enjoy it in front of the tv for the rest of the evening. I would take my laptop on my couch and browse different things at the same thing to get some “work done”. After a few hours of streaming, I would usually head straight to bed feeling as tired as I was in the morning.
After: I usually try to leave around 4:30-5:00 to get home early and cook as soon as I get in. I find that cooking puts me in a good mood and gets rid of any stress or thoughts about my day job so I can concentrate on myself for the rest of the day.
After eating a good meal, I like to stream one of the many series I enjoy online to relax and not think about anything. If I’m in the mood or skipped it in the morning, I’ll try to go for a swim or a walk outside around 20:00.
When I get back, I give my full attention to my clients, projects and business ideas with good music and wine or tea at my desk. I give it all I can until I feel like I need to go to bed which is usually around midnight.
Conclusion By making a journal of my week, I realized that my best productivity time was in the morning but it was also a time that I could not fully give to my personal work. I decided to use that time to work twice as hard so I could clear my schedule for the rest of the day and use my afternoons for meetings, reviews and sharing knowledge with others. The free time now lets me either get started on some personal work or get home earlier.
I also realized that I was being way too lazy on weekday evenings and it wasn’t that much of a problem except I wasn’t feeling happy at the end of the day. I decided to split that time in half to still enjoy some shows but also get what I have left of energy on what really passionates me! I get so pumped nowadays about getting back to my projects in the evening and I haven’t felt that way in a long time.
With the same amount of time spent at work in the day, I have found a way to include physical activity, reading and personal work. Now that’s what I call maximizing time!
Take control now
Let me know what this little experiment brings out in you and how you translated it into your life. Are you still struggling with finding a way to do it all?
If it went well on the first try, what are your favourite tips? Comment below or email me directly, I would love to get your view on this!