If you’re working remotely you have the luxury of having some flexibility built into your schedule. If you’re not using it to make yourself operate at peak hours, you’re missing out on a lot of the power of a flexible work hours. Working most productively often means working at your best time.
You probably have a feel for whether you’re a night owl or an early bird – or one of those in-betweeners who is best in the middle of the day. A lot of this is more than personal preference, as scientists now believe these biorhythms are genetically determined. If you’ve been a night owl all your life, your DNA is working against you if you want to be super-productive in early morning.
Finding your times of peak productivity isn’t just a matter of declaring yourself a night owl and then burning the midnight oil. Your abilities fluctuate throughout the day. While night owls perform better later in the day, they also have times where they’re relatively more productive in those stretches. Log how productive you feel on a 30-minute basis on paper to help see patterns in your peaks and valleys, or use an app like Rescue Time to gather data for you.
When you have data to ponder, you’ll see that your energy levels fluctuate routinely throughout the day, but tend to follow a pattern. Once you pin that pattern down, you just need to schedule around it to master your biorhythms.
- Cognitive and creative tasks: These type of jobs require more mental mojo, so stack them in when you’re most productive.
- Brainstorming: Many of us are more creative toward the end of our work cycle, whether it begins a 6 a.m. or 2 p.m. Seize the wind-down of your work day to brainstorm, when you’re most creative.
- Meetings: This all depends on what you need to accomplish: Tackling heavy cognitive tasks? Make room in your peak hours. Routine administrative talks? Relegate those to those down times when you don’t need your best self.
- Administrative functions: Plop these into your schedule whenever you’re stuck in a trough. While it may seem wise to handle email as it comes in, you’re only burning your most productive minutes when you don’t need to.
Scheduling yourself to be working at your most productive time may take cultivating new habits, but once achieved, you’ll truly be reaping the benefits of working remotely.