Timing Matters: Making the Most of Your Day
Collating my most recent life experiments, I’ve learned that timing matters. You could pull back and look at phases of years and phases of your life, but take a look at how your day is structured, and you’ll see that some days are highly effective, where others are far less so.
Does it have to do with budgeting time and blocking out social media? Eh, a little bit, but more than that, deliberately structuring your day in a way that works with the cycles of your brain will help you naturally tune in to what parts of the day are most effective for different types of tasks.
I’ve tried getting up at 4am to hit the gym, or write, or otherwise be productive. Turns out I REALY don’t like 4am, even when I’ve been up all night. 4am feels like sleep to me. 6am however, feels like energy. At 6, I can get up, make the coffee, and get my day rolling.
The beginning of my day sets the tone for the whole rest of the day, so it’s important to me not to sit on social media or check email. If I’m super excited about a project, I’ll work on it, but I do my workout as soon as possible. This is for two reasons. If I don’t do it first thing, I’m pretty likely to procrastinate on it for the rest of the day, and generally don’t even do it. The second reason is that it alters my mindset. I’ve already accomplished one thing for the day, I’ve eaten one frog, as they say. So I start off the day with a win, and I’m feeling good, so I’m more effective in the rest of my tasks. It helps that it makes my body feel amazing, and keeps me out of the fridge for dumb snacks so I don’t ruin all my hard work.
After the workout and the shower, I do errands. By this point in the day, things are open and I can tackle any running around I need to do. Errands tend to get stuck in my head, and if I don’t do them early, I’m itching all day to get out and do them. If I tackle them early, that clears them from my plate and I can focus better on other things later.
I don’t have really great focus naturally until around 11 in the morning. See, I did the things that didn’t require a whole lot of mental power first, then when my brain kicks in, I can harness it for the important work.
The next 3 or 4 hours is pretty focused on writing, researching, and creating. This particular chunk of time, when I’m in the flow, can pass without me even looking at the clock a single time, because my head is perfectly geared towards what I’m working on. My hands flow, and my thoughts are flawlessly tuned.
Around 4 in the afternoon, that laser focus fades, I get hungry, and I want to relax. Between 4 and 6 is the ideal time for me to have dinner, and sit for a little while with a show or a book. After dinner, I sometimes keep working on a project if I’m still pretty energetic, or I spend the time reading. Sometimes it’s studying, sometimes it’s fiction, and sometimes I use this time to play on social media.
This is the way my head works, and it’s pretty consistent on weekdays and on weekends. This is might be how your head works too, but it might not. There aren’t any set rules for when you have to do things in your day, so try restructuring your personal schedule to see when you’re most effective at certain types of tasks. Some people chalk up their lack of progress on their goals to low willpower, social stresses, job duties, or other demands, and it might just be due to trying to do things at the wrong time of day for you. Make a change and see what happens.