Think about when you are at your very best end and what you are doing. There are several ways to think about this question. Part of it relates to your happiness quotient, which I have written about recently. I like to start by thinking: what are you doing when you lose all track of time? Are you cleaning? Are you working? Are you spending time with your kids? Are you baking? Whatever it is that you are doing is somewhere inside where your passion lies. When we are at our very best, we lose all track of time. We’re not worried about the next thing; we’re just engrossed in where we are. If you don’t know what that moment is, I challenge you to think about it. We should all be able to go to that place where we lose all track of time. It’s a beautiful place of bliss. For me, aside from boating with sunshine, it happens to be working, but not all kinds of work, only certain kinds.
This brings me to my next point about recognizing your “effective zones.” Our brain works better for different tasks at different times of the day, and everyone’s brain is different. Furthermore, my friend Kayla Osterhoff has done oodles of research about whether the time of the day makes a difference, but more significantly, the time of the month for women still menstruating. There is huge evidence that we have superpowers during our cycle of different levels based on our hormone levels. She explains much deeper about this topic than I can on her website.
Time and Place
When I am at my highest productivity for creative work, it’s late at night with a glass of wine. I wish I could tell you it was something else or some other time, but it’s not. If I can find one open late enough, I write in restaurants, sometimes bars, and coffee shops. I never write at home. I know these are my most productive spaces, and the cost associated with a reverse happy hour or a cup of coffee is a small price for saving time with writer’s block and producing a better product. I am in one of my go-to restaurants in Omaha at 10:30 pm as I write this post now.
What Works Best For You
I break my day into blocks based on my zones of productivity. I know when I need to knock a ton of stuff off my list and operate in “power mode,” it’s after I drop my kids off until about 10:30 am with two cups of coffee. Our team starts to show up then, and my work shifts to organizing the day with our team, fulfilling customer requests, and back-to-back meetings. After 5:30 pm, the space gets a little quieter, and I usually start wrapping up follow-up emails from the day and hit the gym at 6:30 pm if I didn’t make it earlier in the day. I spend time with my girls and then shift to my creative work after 9 pm until 1 am. For me, creative work is graphic design, curating kits, and content creation.
Motivating Yourself and Checking in on Your Mood
Part 3 of this question is based on your mood. There is a great deal of debate on this topic. Some professionals say if you want to be “in the mood,” XYZ may never happen. I think that depends on you. I have a running to-do list that is never done, and I pick and choose what I want to work on and when. It’s the benefit of being an entrepreneur; I set my own priorities and deadlines. A great deal of self-motivation is required on my part to ensure I get the “less fun” things done on my list. In one of my coaching programs, we discuss the 3 D’s as your option to handle items on your to-do list for more than two weeks. You can do it, ditch it, or delegate it. If something has been on your to-do list longer, it’s because you don’t want to do it or don’t know how. Review your list and tell me I’m wrong. Does that mean I still have things on my to-do list that have been there for six months? Yep. Trust me; I’m not perfect, either! I’m just advising best practices that really make perfect sense when you think about them.
Listen To Yourself and Follow Through
I believe that you need to know how your brain works best, combined with the practicality of your schedule, to be your most effective and happier! Don’t fight your brain or your body. Do what it takes to get in your “zone” for the task at hand to maximize your productivity.
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