Finding Your Best Time to Work

“The early bird gets the worm.” We’ve all heard the aphorism, but is it true? Are morning people more productive? In a word, no.

There really are early birds and late owls (and people in the middle), but there isn’t one way that’s “best”. Instead, the key to productivity is to understand your own circadian rhythms and schedule your day to take advantage of your most productive times. Here’s how.

Think About It

The fact is, you probably already know when your most productive time is. Spend a few minutes considering your average day and think about how you feel at each point. Do you find yourself springing out of bed, or do you need a few coffees?

Or do you get sleepy mid-afternoon, or are you just hitting your stride? Are you perhaps someone who falls asleep shortly after dinner, or do you get a rush of inspiration as the sun goes down and work furiously into the night? Jot down a quick graph of your daily energy ebbs and flows.

Keep a Journal

If reflecting on your usual day doesn’t help, try journaling for a few days. Once every hour, make a note of how you are feeling and what you are doing. After a few days, your usual daily rhythm should start to be clear.

Pay Attention to Mealtimes

The timing, quality and quantity of meals has a tremendous effect on how focused and productive we are. Some people feel sleepy after a large meal, while others can’t think if they are hungry.

While the basics of healthy eating are well known, each person’s response to food is highly individual. Scientists are working on tests that will let them prescribe the optimum diet for each person, but until then, paying attention to your body is the best tool we have. Chances are, you already know whether that bagel is going to fuel your day or send you into a stupor. If your goal is productivity, put that knowledge to use.

Scheduling Your Day for Productivity

Once you have a good idea of your best and worst times of day, as well as how food affects your productivity, it’s time to reschedule your day. If possible, change your work hours to fit your most productive times. If that’s not possible, try to schedule your most important work for your most alert times of day. Save your easy, repetitive work for the pre-noon hangry time or the 4PM slump.

If you know hunger affects you, stock up on healthy snacks for work. On the other hand, if big lunches make you sleepy, have a salad and chicken breast rather than the pasta. As you make changes in your schedule, keep notes on what works and what doesn’t. Before long, you’ll have optimized your day for productivity.

In Search Of Optimism

It’s been a beautiful afternoon here in Cheshire which gave me the chance to sit outside reading and writing. I don’t know about you but I always find that the sun and a little warmth makes me feel more positive/optimistic. That set me thinking about other ways to make ourselves feel more optimistic and there’s some thoughts from my pondering sat outside!

Ask Yourself Three Key Questions

A big difference between pessimists and optimists is that optimists tend to think that:

  • Problems are temporary and can be resolved
  • Problems are particular to a certain event/person/experience and are not related to everything
  • Problems are external and not a reflection of who you are

On the other hand, pessimists often think that problems are permanent, related to everything, and internal (caused by their own qualities).

To help stop yourself from negative, pessimistic thinking, ask these three questions:

  • Is this problem really permanent, or is it just temporary?
  • Is this thing really a universal truth, or is it a problem particular to one moment/event?
  • Am I blaming myself for everything, or is there more than one facet to the situation?

Practice Gratitude

Studies show that actively practising gratitude can boost optimism and happiness. Resolve to spend two minutes a day jotting down one or two things that you are grateful for.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

Emotions are contagious. Surround yourself with negative people, and it’s easy to sink into a bad mood. Surround yourself with optimistic people, and you just might see yourself looking on the sunny side of the street.

Search for the Positive

When adversity strikes, try to see a positive side of the event. The idea is not to deny the reality of bad situations, but to help you cope with them more productively. For instance, if you get laid off, you could be angry at yourself and the bad job you did, or you could focus on practical steps to land a new, better job.

Practice Mindfulness

A 2014 study showed that people who practiced mindfulness had fewer negative thoughts than before they started practicing, but the same number of positive thoughts. Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as sitting quietly for two minutes a day and paying attention to your breath.

Be Kind To Yourself

Over the past few weeks I have been sharing some ideas on Twitter around how to Be Kind to Yourself. One of the things that has led me to reflect on is how sometimes we need to change our routines to help us be kind to ourselves. It’s a really good idea to establish routines. However, sometimes a routine can become a rut. If you are feeling unfulfilled, tired, and maybe even a little bit overwhelmed, you probably need to find a way to break your everyday routine.

Here are nine ways to get out of a rut. If you already do one of them, try to figure out a way that you can make it different in some way.

Take a New Path to Work

This might seem silly, especially if you were driving or walking the same way to work every single day. However, something as simple as making a new path to work can totally change your life. Look back on your life and think about the random things that you have done that you put you in just the right place at the right time. What if you happen to meet someone new just because you took a different path than normal?

Try Cooking a Totally New Meal

Even something as simple as your everyday meals can become routine. Most people tend to eat the same things day after day, month after month, switching between eight to ten basic meals. If you look at how you eat, you’ll probably discover the same thing. This is a good way to explore different cultures and learn new things. You might even want to take a cooking class – more on that below.

Sign Up for a Class

To really break up your normal schedule, sign up for a class in something that you think you’re interested in. For example, if you love reading about medieval times, perhaps you should study medieval times in school. Thankfully, today you don’t have to sign up for every single class to go back to school. Instead, you can find a class online that will work just as well.

Walk Instead of Ride

If you normally ride to work but it’s within walking distance, you might want to try walking. When you walk places, you’re more likely to meet other people who are walking places. Plus, you get a lot of exercise, sun and time to think.

Take the Stairs

if you work in an office building or go places and you normally take the elevator, try taking the stairs. See how different that makes you feel. It may seem strange, but the smallest change in your day can make the biggest difference. Maybe by taking the stairs, you’ll lose five pounds this year; who knows?

Introduce Yourself

Often, it’s easy to get tied up in our own lives. We get so busy with our family and the friends that we already know that we forget that there’s a lot of people out there that might be the best friend we ever had in our lives and we just haven’t met them yet. Start introducing yourself to at least one new person every day. It doesn’t matter if they’re a stranger on the street in a store or at work; put out your hand and introduce yourself.

Try a New Colour

Another way that you can change up your day and break your everyday routine is to try new fashions or new decorations. It’s surprising what a new coat of paint on your office wall or your living room wall can do for your mood and your outlook.

Find Top 10 Things to Do in Your Area

A fun way to get out of your normal routine is to do something new right in the area that you live. Many of us live in places that other people pay good money to visit on vacation. Find out the different things that vacationers do in your town and follow what they do.

Listen to Books

The truth is, the more you read, the smarter you’re going to become. But it can be difficult to find time to read. Thankfully you can listen to digital books too. You can get a subscription to Audible and listen to as many books as you want. The more you listen to books, the smarter you’re going to become and the more likely you will be to discover your passion.

Discovering your passion requires that you are willing to break out of your comfort zone and change your routine from what it is now. You might want to start with a few of the small tasks mentioned in this article. You will surprise yourself at where you’re going to end up when you start changing your everyday routine.

Thank You! Dealing With Compliments

Some people have just as much problem dealing with compliments as others have to deal with criticism. But it’s important to learn how to deal with compliments because they can be a way to build up your self-confidence and start believing what others say realistically.

  • Say Thank You – When someone goes out of their way to give you a compliment, the best way of dealing with it is to say thank you and mean it. Look them in the eye and say, “Thank You”. This is going to not only go far in giving others a good impression of you, but also help you believe the compliments you get.
  • Don’t Make Excuses – When someone gives you a compliment, don’t make excuses about why you’re not good enough. You’ll turn that person into a liar and make them uncomfortable. In fact, you mainly teach them not to compliment you at all, and then you’ll start feeling bad about yourself later.
  • Share the Credit – Sometimes, someone will give you a compliment but someone else deserves it too. The best thing to do at that moment is to share the credit with the other person because that is the truth. Don’t do this unless someone else really is responsible for the outcome, though; you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Be genuine and real about it.
  • Mind Your Body Language – When you are getting a compliment, don’t giggle, cover your mouth or slouch. You should look right at the person and thank them with gratitude without feeling awkward.
  • Don’t Try to Out-Compliment Someone – When someone you admire gives you a compliment, don’t automatically start to compliment them too until it becomes a battle of the compliments. Instead, just thank them. When the time is right you can compliment them too.

Learning to deal with compliments is a good way to build your own self-confidence to a higher place. When you are confident enough to smile and say thank you and mean it, you are doing great and oddly, people will like you more.

Personal Skills Mindmapping Exercise

Before you do this mindmapping exercise please watch the Personal Skills Mind Map video below to get started…

The idea is to focus on all of your skills and talents and then dwell on all of the benefits and advantages that these skills bring you in life, business, etc.

This can be a great technique if you need a confidence boost or to raise your energy/spirits.

Set a 15-20 minute timer so you can do this quickly with as much focus as possible.

You will spend the whole time concentrating on your personal skills, natural talents, etc.

For each skill you uncover, you are going to acknowledge all of the advantages and benefits of having these skills.

This brainstorming session will help you mind dwell on your strengths and create a boost of confidence for your day!

Do this for yourself when you need a “pick me up”.

You might also want to try this with colleagues, friends or family as well. It can be a great collaborative exercise!