What does a typical workday look like to you? Perhaps you start by checking your emails, or scrolling through Instagram? Or perhaps you’re straight into work, finishing off a task, or ploughing into whatever’s sitting at the top of your to-do list, regardless of what that entails.
Science tells us that if we want to be productive, there’s an optimal formula to follow. (We’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t start with Facebook.) In The New York Times bestselling book When: the scientific secrets of perfect timing, author Daniel Pink explains that for most of us, alertness and energy levels climb in the morning, peak around noon, and then tend to plummet during the afternoon. Mornings are when we’re likely to make smart decisions, have better memory, ward off distractions and be in positive moods. In other words, we’re typically at our best early in the day and, by understanding this, we can structure our time so that our energy is allocated efficiently.
In addition to managing your time efficiently, it’s important to identify the activities you’re filling it with.
The most successful people in the world talk about the importance of ‘starting your day right’. Steve Jobs used to give himself a motivational speech every morning. Bill Gates has been known to spend an hour on the treadmill while watching instructional videos. These are classic examples of how we can make the most of the 24 hours we’re given each day. Because to ‘live our best lives’, we need to be mindful of what we do (and don’t do) with our time.
As coaches, we follow this ‘create, curate, consume’ formula:
- Create – Do all your creative, challenging and attention-demanding work before you consume anything. If you need to write, design, solve problems or have a brainstorming session, do that first, or at the very least, when you know your energy is at its best. Studies show, for example, that the ideal time to write is shortly after you wake up, as this is when the prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that helps you set and achieve goals) is most active. That’s not to say that you’ll only be creative first thing in the day. Another study has found that afternoon slumps, or our ‘non-optimal’ times of day, can likewise be rich sources of innovation. As Daniel Pink explains in his book: “At those looser moments, a few distractions can help us spot connections we might have missed when our filters were tighter.”
- Curate – Consciously decide what you’re going to read, watch and consume. How long will you spend on social media? Will you read the Australian Financial Review, or do you naturally turn to something a little lighter? Filter and choose content that’s going to add to your thinking, energy, education and overall growth. We’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole and found ourselves a few hours into a ‘quick scroll’ looking at random people dancing on TikTok, or at photos of friends-of-friends on Facebook. On average, we spend 6 hours and 59 minutes a day browsing, reading, watching, listening and playing online, while the average internet user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes each day on social media alone. Make the most of your time by curating your content choices carefully.
- Consume – To be effective at what we do and how we use our time, we must be disciplined. When you want to read, watch or listen to something, be very deliberate about what you’re choosing. Rather than falling into time- and energy-draining social media channels, challenge your thinking with a podcast, learn new ideas through a TED Talk, or boost your wellbeing by engaging with positive news stories.
In line with this idea of consuming content to inspire personal growth, check out The Jordan Harbinger Show, in which Daniel Pink shares his tips to maximise productivity.
– The Coach Place Global
Image by @austindistel
This content is the intellectual property of The Coach Place Global and not for distribution or reproduction of any kind. For further detail please refer to our full terms and conditions.