Do you find yourself charged up and ready to go first thing in the morning, or do you stumble through the morning and hit your stride right after lunch? Taking advantage of your peak mental energy time can do wonders for your productivity as well as your self-esteem.
Many of my clients have never formally identified their peak mental energy time – they just know there’s a time of day when they seem to be highly motivated and productive, and other times that they spend spinning their wheels. If you haven’t identified your peak mental energy time, start paying attention to when you’re most able to take on difficult or unpleasant tasks – that’s most likely your peak time.
Once you’ve identified this key time, use it for tasks that require a lot of mental calories – those difficult and unpleasant things that are hard to wrap your brain around. You’ll need to muster all the mental horsepower you can for these tasks, so make it easy for yourself by scheduling them for the right time of day. Conversely, do fun and easy things during your slump time – don’t waste your peak mental energy time on things you’ll be able to do no matter how well your brain is functioning.
When I’m working in my office, I don’t even have to look at my watch to know when it’s around 3:00 in the afternoon. My yawning, distractibility, and restlessness tell me it’s time to get up from my desk and do something physical because my brain needs a break. Conversely, from 7 to 9 in the morning is a great time for me to concentrate and stay focused on desk or computer work. Fortunately for me (and my clients), if I’m doing something physical like organizing, I’m able to stay focused and energized no matter what time of day it is.
Sometimes you may not be able to work in accordance with your peak mental energy time – meetings, appointments, and other external demands may make it impossible to claim that time as your own. In those instances, taking a break will help energize you – I’ve previously written about the power of breaks. You may have to shorten each work session to allow for breaks, but in the long run, you’ll probably be more productive.
What if you can’t identify your peak mental energy time? I’ve never worked with anyone who doesn’t have some time of day that is best for them, but until you determine your peak time, you may be best off doing difficult and unpleasant things at the beginning of the day. That way, if your day gets derailed by other demands, at least you’ll have gotten something important accomplished.
So when is your peak mental energy time? What tasks will you target doing during that time?
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,