Do you get up at 6 am to meditate, work out, and treat your body and mind before you get your day going? Having a good morning routine can do so much for your day. There’s no doubt about it.
Having a big junk of your To-Do’s figured out before noon can definitely give a sense of fulfillment. Not to disappoint you, but this is only partly your accomplishment.
Our body is programmed to get stuff done in the AM. This inner clock is called Circadian Rhythm and it controls when you have the most energy during the day. Of course, some people’s clock is set in a slightly different time zone. But for most of us, our highest mental alertness is about 3–5 hours after wake-up (10 am) and drops in the early afternoon hours. Does that sound familiar?
So what now? Our energy level drops like the crystal ball on New Years Eve and we can only fight it with fresh air and caffeine, right?
Well, partly true. What your morning routine can do for your general groove, an afternoon routine can help you to follow through. When your body only wants to dial down on your couch and turn on Netflix, the following tips may help you to touch-and-go into a productive finishing of the day.
Why? Consider these two amazing phenomena:
When writing, he uses to stop not with one task when it’s finished, but when he knew exactly what to do next. This triggers the brain into looking forward to getting back to the task and bring it home. Not only does it make you feel in control, you also build up the energy to actually follow through with a clear plan. Your brain loves finishing tasks that you’ve started. When it can’t complete something, it gets stuck on it, and will even give you a boost of energy to help you finish what you’ve started.
We get a rewarding rush of energy (dopamine) when we finish a task. However, we don’t need to hit major goals to see that benefit. By setting minor milestones you will get a feeling of progress earlier, which again pushes you to keep on going.
For example: Let’s say, one big goal would be to write a blog post. Now let’s make smaller junks out of it and we’ll call these your minor milestones. They could look like this:
(1) Collect resources, (2) Write 3 versions of a catchy headline, (3) Draft the structure, (4) Fill the content blocks, (5) Proofread the text, (6) publish the post.
With this, you also know now how much time such a task most probably will need and you can plan your time-blocks more accordingly. This again will support your accomplishment barometer, which in return makes you happy — yeay!
During one day we only have one specific tank of energy available. If we have a rough night, for example, we already start off at below 100% and as the day proceeds, every decision, every task demands its share. So as important as time management, is energy management.
After lunch, with all your blood’s digesting and nourishing your body, be aware that the (let’s say) 40% energy left will run out soon, and you have to be very conscious with its use.
Booster shots like those little successes as described above are one way. My favorite productivity hack is planning your to-do’s in time blocks in your calendar. This helps to stay focused and not get sidetracked by other less important things. Distractions are major drainers that you want to avoid at any cost during this time of the day.
If you need breaks, schedule them.
I love these little “bridge times” between tasks where I can let my mind wander off and unwind for a bit before we go into the next round.
What also works like a charm is taking a few minutes to take a quick spin in the park/around the block, or just walk the stairs 2x up and down to get your heart rate up. You can also get your colleague and you two do 50 jumping-jacks while your coffee is getting ready. Give yourself permission for 10 minutes to do some kind of physical activity. If you schedule it, it’s getting real, so treat yourself with that little time-out.
You’re approaching the final stretch of your workday. For this last quarter of your day science suggests focussing on those “auto-pilot” tasks. Anything you don’t need the most creative sparks, and you’d actually classify as boring. The “rocks” are done, so this is dedicated for today’s gravel and dust. This time of the day is perfect for squeezing out the last productivity juices for the grand finale.
To finish off your day, it’s highly recommended to list the 3–5 biggest tasks for the next day in order of importance. Once you plan your big goals already the night before, you download your thoughts and ease off into a relaxed evening.
Try these tips and start working with your energy, not against it.
Of course, this is a progress and needs time to manifest. So take little steps. Try to figure out at what point of a task you could stop and take off again once you return to your table. How many subtasks can you carve out of one big goal? Notice how it feels when an energy-low is about to hit you. What body sensations can you feel? Share this thought with a friend or co-worker and plan a 10-min energizer together.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you, what do you think about these tips? How do they work out for you? Please share with us in the comments below.
Wishing you a juicy afternoon and a remarkable finish!
Lots of love,