The Perfect Work Schedule: the Best Time to Get Things Done
During the busy work week, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep on top of a packed schedule - and while our rigid 9 to 5 timetable may have been established over many years of office culture, the question is whether this fixed schedule is actually helping us or hindering us.
Studies have shown that you may in fact have more success by mixing up your schedule a little - finding the optimum time for each task on your list. By implementing a few simple changes, you could make both yourself and your team more productive throughout the week - ensuring you hit those all important targets, all the while streamlining your workload.
The work day is full of peaks and troughs, and it can be hard to predict your next slump. However, if you work on a variety of projects throughout the day, it’s best to do the most important tasks in the middle of the day. Research by the Harvard Business Review has revealed that we’re most productive between 11am and 1pm. Plan your team days to get the most important jobs completed before 1pm, allowing you to naturally wind down as the day draws to a close and your team become less productive.
Sending emails can be particularly frustrating if your task list is dependent on a response or engagement with what you’ve sent out. However, while our working week may run Monday to Friday, studies actually show that this may not be the best time to send emails - especially if you have a tough time getting the desired response. The logic behind this comes from the simple fact that most office workers are inundated with emails throughout the week. So by sending them at the weekend, particularly in the morning, you’re capitalising on empty inboxes - giving your email a better chance of being seen. A 2014 study by Yesware concluded that you’re 6.7% more likely to get a response at the weekend. Try scheduling your email shots in advance to capitalise on weekend availability.
The creative hour
Logic dictates that the best time to brainstorm is after a freshly brewed coffee and a good night's sleep. However, you’ve probably heard of people waking up in the middle of the night shouting ‘eureka!’ or having a lightbulb moment in the shower. Research shows that we often get our best ideas when we’re tired - successful brainstorming is all about taking a fresh approach to an old problem, and sometimes we need to be a little switched off in order to see beyond the straightforward solution.
A 2014 study by Harvard University into the ‘Morning Morality Effect’ has shown that people are less inclined to cheat or lie about something in the morning - making it the perfect time to tackle an ethical dilemma. In the research, self-control is described as a ‘muscle’, getting weaker after extended activity. Make the right call by making tough decisions early in the day after a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast.
It’s clear that there’s something to be said for switching up your schedule when it comes to maximising productivity at work. Don’t forget: keeping healthy and hydrated also plays a big role in staying switched on - so keep your staff cool, calm and collected by investing in a water cooler for your office.