A few weeks ago, I had to reschedule a meeting and decided to set it for a Friday at 3.

Very quickly during the meeting, I found myself admitting out loud, “so THIS is why I don’t schedule anything important for Friday afternoons.” I was clearly not in my most energized or productive headspace, and it got me thinking about the importance of knowing your most productive hours in the day.

The bad news is that some research shows that we might be capable of only 3 hours of truly productive time in each workday. The good news is that when we coordinate those productive hours with our energy and creativity peaks – we can be up to 500% more productive when we’re in the flow.

It turns out that intensity of focus is more important than length of time spent on a project, which makes it absolutely essential for leaders to know their most productive hours. Here are a few tips on how to use this information.

  1. If you aren’t sure of which hours are your “golden hours”, consider making a note over a few weeks any time you realize you’re in the zone or conversely that you’re slogging. This will help give you a better understanding of your workday energy flow.
  2. Plan your schedule in time blocks according to your probable energy level. Schedule project work, important meetings, and brainstorming for peak hours, and save inbox management, phone calls, team check ins, and less important meetings for your slower hours.
  3. Embrace your golden hours even if they’re nontraditional. Not everyone will feel most productive during the 9 to 5 work day – don’t be ashamed, lean in!

Find your peak energy hours, foster and protect them. When you try to force yourself to do energy intensive tasks during your low energy hours, you’ll constantly feel like you’re swimming upstream. Also, make sure you are taking energy breaks (get up from your desk and move around) and fuel your body and mind with healthy snack so you are not showing up “hangry”.

For more information on energy management vs. time management, check out the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr. The concepts in this book may seem simple but they are so powerful and have made a huge difference in my life.

“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.” – Jim Loehr

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