We've all got highs and lows throughout our work day — a boost of energy after a coffee break and some sleepiness after lunch are two common ones. Mapping them out will help you find your productivity sweet spot.
Photo by nDevilTV.
Over at The Simple Dollar, they've put together a guide for managing the natural ups and downs of your work week. The first step is to create an "energy map" of your week. Your goal here is to find patterns in your levels of energy and productivity:
Fire up your favourite spreadsheet program and open up a weekly planner spreadsheet, one that has the days along the top and the times along the left, split up into fifteen minute or half hour increments or so. Print off several of these (so that they'll travel with you easily). Then, just keep it on your desk where you'll notice it all the time. Instead of using it to plan, though, just write in what you're doing and use a number to describe how productive you feel, with a 10 being as productive as you possibly can be and 0 being asleep. Don't worry about precision, just use a number that roughly describes how you feel.
If you do this consistently over a bunch of weeks, you'll eventually find that you have a pretty good grasp on the points in the week where your productivity is high (lots of high numbers each week in that time slot) and when it's low (lots of low numbers in that slot).
Once you've created your map, you'll be able to see distinct patterns and know when to schedule important tasks. Your low-energy times can be used to schedule tasks which don't require high levels of concentration. It's also worth examining your map to see if you can alter or decrease windows of lower energy—a common source of low energy in the mid-morning is low blood sugar as the effects of breakfast wear off.
For more ways to take advantage of your natural cycle of energy through out the work week, check out the whole article at The Simple Dollar. Have a tip or trick for finding and making the most of your windows of peak productivity? Let's hear about it in the comments.