Discovering your personal productivity rhythm can help you be more effective, efficient and get more done with the time you have each day. Your productivity rhythm defines how, when and where you are most productive, empowering you to your advantage for making the most of your time.

Determining your peak levels of energy and focus will allow you to make better choices throughout your busy workday and perform at your best. To determine your productivity rhythm, it is first important to invest a little time in self-awareness, observing some of your current habits.

Know Your Energy

Energy levels fluctuate throughout the span of a workday. It is highly beneficial to prioritize your tasks based on these energy levels. These patterns are connected to the ability to use brainpower and think clearly. The terms “morning people” and “night owls” are often used to describe one’s most productive hours. Patterns of energy levels will differ for each individual based on various factors, including diet, sleep, or emotional stress. Once you determine your peak performance times, you can better schedule your daily tasks. 

It is important to match the work that is of highest priority to your peak performance times, including those tasks that require critical thinking or problem-solving. Likewise, you can assign your lesser complex tasks for the hours that you know you will be less engaged or focused. Knowing your energy will allow you to set the stage for how you perform your daily tasks, and seek better results.

Work-Life Balance

The most productive individuals are those who are well-balanced. Work-life balance includes prioritizing the demands in one’s personal life at home, as well as the demands in the workplace. This does not mean an equal balance of time between work and home, but rather prioritizing what is important during that time. Work time should be dedicated to tasks that are essential for your role in the office, whereas home time should be dedicated to your personal priorities like family, fun and personal wellness.

Be respectful of your time. Poor work-life balance will often impact the quality of your work and decisions in addition to possibly hurting personal relationships and causing burnout. 

Taking Regular Breaks 

Practicing good time management does not mean that you are endlessly working around the clock to meet a deadline. Those who are most efficient with their time will understand the importance of incorporating breaks into their schedules. Taking breaks will help you to increase your level of concentration, as well as avoid burnout. Contrary to popular belief, breaks will actually allow you to get more done throughout the day and remain in your productivity rhythm. 

Studies show we need to get up, circulate the body and take a break after an hour of focused work. The most effective breaks are those that happen away from your workspace, such as taking a walk outside, a few quiet moments of meditation with music, taking some deep breaths of fresh air or all the above. Find something that works for you to ensure you get time to relax. The key is to detach from your desk and reset your mental energy. Skipping lunch breaks to complete extra work will only decrease your performance levels and increase your chances of making mistakes or poor decisions. Taking the time to care for your mind and body will have positive effects on workplace achievements. As a leader, it’s even more important to model this for others to increase your team’s performance and improve results.

The Multitasking Myth

A common misconception of effective time management is the skill of multitasking. Multitasking is the act of carrying out two or more tasks simultaneously. Despite how this may seem like a sufficient way to conquer that to-do list, it is actually harmful to your productivity rhythm and leads to a significant loss of valued time. Many studies have been done on this subject and you need only search online to find plenty of evidence. Multitasking is not a skill to be rewarded but rather a habit to change.

Multitasking and good time management oppose one another. Each time we switch a task, our brains must adjust and refocus. That’s lost productivity. Performing multiple activities at once also causes you to stress more, forget information, perform poorly and likely experience burnout. Our brains are not designed to handle multiple assignments at once, such as answering emails while conversing in an important business call. It is of major advantage to devote all your energy to one task at a time, complete it and move to the next. When you dedicate your time and focus on one task at a time, you will generate a better outcome for that task and ultimately get more completed. Organize your time so that each task will receive your full energy, rather than sharing this energy on various projects.

Time Batching

Time batching is a great productivity system to improve focus and build structure into your daily tasks. Different from multitasking, this approach involves grouping similar tasks together and organizing dedicated time periods to complete these tasks without interruptions. Time batching will provide concentration without breaking your workflow and will eliminate multitasking. 

The practice of time batching is advantageous for everyone – whether you have difficulty focusing on a task, have many disturbances in your workplace, become easily distracted, or are just simply looking to have a productive day. 

Time batching is a simple process to implement. To begin, start by establishing your to-do list. With this list, determine which tasks are related to one another and ‘batch’ them together. Determine the approximate amount of time needed to complete them, then block it on your schedule. It is important to remember that the time frames for these tasks should be realistic. And, if necessary, longer projects can be divided into separate batching groups and time blocks to allow buffers for renewal breaks or fresh air.

Practical Illustration

Pam, a banking executive, was always working endlessly around the clock to meet deadlines. She would spend her lunch hours at her desk, using one hand to type on her computer and one hand to eat her food. In Pam’s mind, she was optimizing her time by multitasking.

Pam’s co-worker, Jill, had asked her to join her for a walk at lunch. Pam declined the offer, as she was too overwhelmed with piles of work, and could not even think about going outside. She wondered how Jill always felt so energetic and had time to take breaks. Jill could see the stress on Pam’s face and informed her that fresh air would be good for her. Jill explained that breaks away from her desk will help her reset her mental energy and get back on track with her productivity rhythm. 

Pam finally agreed to join Jill for some fresh air. When she arrived back at her desk after lunch, she was amazed at how much more energized, efficient, and patient she was the rest of the afternoon. She was so impressed, they continued this lunchtime routine from that day forward. Taking an activity or walking break is also a super strategy for overcoming mental blocks in team strategy meetings or even writer’s block. Give it a try!

Our personalities and the way we’re wired play huge roles in how we manage time. We’ve developed a powerful and complimentary “Confident Leader Insight Assessment” to help you discover potential time management barriers. Click HERE to take this brief but powerful assessment. The report is immediate and if you have any questions about it, send me an email and I will personally reply to it or click the button below to schedule a complimentary Confident Leader Strategy Session to go over the key results and how to maximize your productivity rhythm.