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Studies show that people are usually only productive for 3 hours in a day. Yep, a mere three hours- that’s it. And, it also shows that most people can’t concentrate on one task for more than 20 minutes at a time
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a far-cry away from the normal 8 hours workday that has been the norm for so long. And, as bloggers, we tend to feel lazy if we aren’t working on our blogs 10-15 hours a day (I can’t be the only one right?!)
So why is it that the norm is 8 hours a day if we’re usually only focused for 3 hours?
WHY DO WE WORK 8 HOURS DAYS?
According to this article, workdays became longer during the industrial revolution when factory owners wanted their factories to run 24/7 for maximum production. So, to allow this to happen, people were working typically 10-16 hours of workdays.
Until Robert Owen, an 18th-century factory owner, came along. He cared about the happiness and well-being of his factory employees and realized that 10-16 hours of workdays were not sustainable to his workers. So, he started a movement to cut the average workday down to 8 hours. His slogan for perfect balance was “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” which gets you through your full 24 hour day.
Ford Motor Company was the first place to implement this strategy and became the standard. Crazy isn’t it? One day some factory owners decided this would help his factory run more efficiently and… that was it! Everyone decided they were right.
So now that we know why the standard is 8 hour works days, let’s find out how to find your most productive time of day.
1. GET ON A SCHEDULE
Having a schedule is so important. When you work from home full-time, it doesn’t mean you can do whatever, whenever. You won’t get much work done that way. Or, if you don’t work full time on your blog and you still have a job it’s even more important to have a set schedule.
You want to have a good work-life balance and a routine to keep you motivated and organized. You’ll never find the best time of day to work if you don’t have some sort of schedule.
Things you’ll want to get on a schedule with are
- What time you go to bed
- What time you wake up
- What time you start and end work
- Breaks and eating
- Rest time
Just like at a normal job, you need to treat your at-home job the same. Set a start and end time, break time, and relaxation time. It’s not hard to imagine either that if you go to bed at 1 am one day, getting up at 8 am to start work is going to be hard.
Getting on to a schedule will take discipline, but it is crucial in finding your most productive time of day.
Once you get on a schedule, the next step to finding your most productive time of day is to experiment. Get up in the morning and try doing the most important task you have that day first. Try that for a while, a week at least. If that doesn’t work, and you find yourself not very productive, then try in the afternoon and again at night.
Eventually, you’ll find what you like best and be able to sick with it.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
This goes hand in hand with finding a schedule. Listening to your body and the flow of energy you have throughout the day is important when scheduling the tasks you need to do. It’s all about how much energy you have because that directly relates to your focus and therefore your productivity.
If you know that you are super tired in the morning, starting your biggest task of the day first probably isn’t a good idea. Which, as I mentioned before, can have a big impact on your daily schedule. If you go to bed late, waking up “early” (you determine how early that is) is going to be hard.
People’s eternal clocks are all different. For example, I prefer to wake up early and start my day and I’m out by 11:30 most days. Whereas my husband (he’s a machine) can go to bed at 4 am and will sleep all day if he could.
It’s all about listening to your body and to your eternal clock. Figuring out when you need to sleep and how many hours you typically need to not feel tired is important!
4. TIME YOURSELF
Using the Pomodoro Technique to time how long you can stay focused before you feel your mind wandering is important. I time my work sessions (20 minutes usually) and then schedule out a break (5 minutes or so). How long you work can depend on what you’re doing, but make sure your breaks get longer with your work sessions.
You can read more in-depth about the Pomodoro technique here, but all you really need to do is set a timer, and when you feel your mind wandering check how long you’ve been working for. That is a good time to stop and take a short break (timed as well so you don’t lose track of time!)
Don’t fight your energy and body when working because if you’re tired and have a wandering mind, you’ll end up getting less work done anyway so there really isn’t a point!
5. TRY SWITCHING WORK SPOTS
Where you work is an important part of your energy levels too. Sometimes I can feel productive sitting on my couch watching tv. Other times, it becomes too much of a distraction and I can kick butt at my desk.
So, if you find your mind wandering, a simple change in your surroundings can really boost your productivity! Where you can work is just as important as when!
Finding your most productive time of day is more than just picking a certain time and going with it. It’s a bit of a lifestyle change, a routine change, and listening to your body. It may take a month or so to fall into a new schedule (habits take time to form) but once you figure it out, all you need is the discipline to complete it!