Working with your own rhythms to improve motivation

 In Leadership, Management

I don’t have trouble being awake early. In fact, for the last 4 years, I’ve only ever needed a morning alarm when travelling. When I’m at home, I’ve got nature’s alarm clock: children.

So when I start work in the morning I’ve already been mentally going for hours. I don’t need to warm up most mornings – that’s when I’m in the zone.

My most productive hours during the day are between 8 and 11. That’s not the same for everyone. I have had staff that struggle to be awake before 9, so they’re really not hitting their zone until about 10am.

Everyone is different. I’ve found that the one of the keys to being motivated and productive is understanding your rhythms (and your team’s rhythms) and working with them.

That means planning your most complicated or important tasks in times that you know you’ll be in the zone. And actually acknowledging and planning for what to do when your energy level drops.

For example, I tend to dip in energy everyday somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, depending on when (or if) I stop for lunch. Most days I’ll structure my tasks around getting as much as I can done before 1. After 1, I plan for some tasks that are still important, but aren’t as taxing for my brain. For me that tends to be things like writing blogs, doing timesheets, and completing administrative work.

If I have a particularly heavy day, I might switch that around. I’ll get all the “easy” work done in the morning, and try to force myself to have a second productivity peak in the afternoon by doing some exciting development work.

I can’t do that for many days in a row, as I start to lose my morning productivity peak. But once a week, for me, is fine.

I’ve also got a bad habit of working at night. For whatever reason, after my kids have gone to bed, I often have another period that’s great for work. Now I try not to work every night, as being with my wife is much more important. However, when I have to, I know that between 7:30 and 9:30 I can be productive.

Now, you might be different, and so could your employees – and that’s my point.

To be a productive employee you need to work with your own rhythms. To be a productive manager, you’ve got to balance your own rhythms against your employees’ rhythms and find ways to both be as productive (and motivated) as possible.

What will you change in your daily workflow to improve productivity?


Interested in learning more about motivation? Read my article on increasing motivation – can it really be done?

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