Today I want to talk about the importance of optimizing your work schedule for your own peak performance times. Sounds boring, I know, but it’ll have a huge impact on your business’ success and your happiness.
When I first started my business, I basically didn’t have any structure. I would do work whenever I felt like it or if I had a deadline and it was really inconsistent so I wasn’t getting as much done as I should have been. In order to combat this, I decided that, if I was going to actually have a business, I should behave like a normal business and keep normal business hours, so I started saying I would work from 9 to 5 each day. While I did, usually, sit in front of my computer from 9 to 5, I wasn’t exactly working productively that whole time.
Now, I’ve done a few other videos about productivity tips and tools, but I haven’t talked about when to work yet and, for me, that’s actually what makes all the difference. My best hours are 5AM to 9AM so, once I got over the idea that I was supposed to “act like a business” if I wanted to really be a business, I started getting up at 4:45 or 5 in the morning, working for about 4 hours, and then doing some of the basics of the day – working out (if I did it), showering, breakfast, reading the news, dishes, other chores around the house, whatever. Then I would eat lunch and do a little more work in the afternoon from say 2PM to 4PM and that was that. If I needed to meet with people, I would schedule those meetings for lunch or later, always. This isn’t exactly the typical work schedule, but it’s what worked for me.
Now that I am no longer a nomad – for the time being anyway – I still find that this is what works for me. I get up early, work from 5AM to 9AM and then typically go to yoga and then go to the office. My best work gets done in those first few hours of the day when my mind is sharp and uncluttered and nobody else is awake to distract me with texts, calls, and emails.
Now, my boyfriend has his own business and he’s found that his schedule is totally the opposite of mine. He likes to relax in the morning and finds that inspiration to get shit done will suddenly hit him around 2PM and then he’ll be in the zone until around 8PM. That’s what works for him.
The point is that each person’s sweet spot is different and figuring out yours and then respecting it will make it way easier for you to succeed as an entrepreneur. Your most precious resource is your time and working when you’re going to be most productive will save you oodles of time. I can literally get stuff done in the hour between 5AM and 6AM that would take me 2 or 3 hours to get through in the afternoon. That’s a pretty major increase in productivity.
Also make sure you understand how long you can go in between breaks before your productivity declines. For most people, roughly 90 minutes is the ideal slot of time for you to work and then you should physically get away from your computer and do something completely different and, ideally, physical to give your brain a break. Not everyone’s the same here but, again, you want to figure out where your sweet spot is and then give yourself permission to cater to what works for you.
Now, of course, there are going to be exceptions to this rule. Some businesses will require certain hours in order to be easily accessible for your customers and sometimes you’ll have to take a meeting at a time that’s not ideal for you, but being aware of when you do your best work is still important. You might need your bakery to be open from 6AM to 3PM for your customers but, if your peak productivity is at 7PM, that’s when you should do any strategic planning or creative pursuits like developing a new marketing campaign.
I know this seems ridiculously simple but trust me, it will do wonders for your productivity, which can do wonders for your business overall.
UPDATE 02/19/2018: I was at a conference in Redwood City last week and Dan Pink apparently has a new book on this subject so, if you’re interested in learning more, check out When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.
This tip is just one of 4 in my guide: 4 Steps to Improving Productivity. Click here to get the guide and start getting more done faster right away.