If you read my last blog, you got a snapshot at how I was burning the candle from both ends... Minimal sleep, extended hours, and being overcaffeinated was my “new normal”.
I can distinctly remember driving home (on a somewhat vacant I-25 *thanks COVID*) after a 14+ hour workday and barely being able to keep my eyelids open. Rolling down my window for some fresh air, I thought – I can’t keep this up for more than 6 months.
So, I started reaching out to local entrepreneurs asking their advice and doing some research on my end too. Mixed responses were coming in and I wanted to try on each piece of advice to see if it “fit”.
The real question was: What is an “optimal schedule” and how can I be the most productive?
Turns out, if you start the day checking your emails – you’re doing it all wrong. This was a unanimous answer from many business owners. They highlighted that your brain is most optimal at problem solving and ignoring distractions earlier in the day. Sorting through your inbox, writing replies, and deleting spam is considered a brain energy “suck”. They also mentioned that team meetings and scheduled calls should be in the afternoon to allow everyone the morning to tackle their “major projects”.
Examples of “major projects”: building quarterly budgets, reviewing new product samples and designs, planning a multi-month marketing schedule, or consolidating information from detailed reports.
A specific CEO pointed out that unexpected phone calls can leech your morning productivity and it’s best to always block your calendar until after lunch or put your phone on “do not disturb”. Another start-up tech owner mentioned that light exercise before work will enhance your motivation, concentration, and performance. Another good friend and small business owner gave me the advice of building out each week for the month like a “chore board” – highest priorities are on Monday and Tuesday each week at the very beginning of the day. Then you can see what you’ve accomplished and what needs more attention by Wednesday.
Studies show that by lunchtime you cannot gain back your “morning performance high” with caffeine or food.That’s why after lunch you should do the paperwork, schedule routine meetings, sit on conference calls, or arrange “idea” breakout sessions. Your brain is on its own schedule and as morning focus fades.... “free-thought” mode comes to play. Some people utilize their lunch hour to get a quick workout in to help boost mood and energy to tackle the afternoon. It was pretty clear from each place I researched to avoid eating “heavy” lunches because your “rest and digest” mode will switch on making it much harder to keep the pistons firing.
So, if you’re looking for an “optimal schedule” reference, here you go:5:45a Rise and Shine (Drink a glass of water)
6:00a Light Exercise (Things like yoga, biking, walk the doggo, jogging)
8:00a Add Fuel (2 hours after waking up is when you should consume caffeine // food)
10:00a You’re Ready! (Take on your most challenging tasks now)
2:30p Break (a sweat)? (This would be your 1-hour lunch // workout break)
6:00p Close Shop
6:30p Eat Dinner
7:30p Light Bulb Moments (As your body starts to “wind down”, networking in your brain may light up. These light bulb moments can be the “next big idea” in your work)
10:00p Sweet Dreams (Ideally, adenosine levels in the brain are high, so you feel fatigued and ready for bed. Avoid screentime and shut off as many lights as you can by 9:00ish)