I struggled with this one to be honest. It’s a rabbit hole of information, you can learn so much…… so if you feel you want to investigate further then reach out!
I think we can all appreciate that when our energy is high we are unstoppable! But how can we know when this will happen? Can we plan for that?
Different genders have different energy levels at different times. For the purpose of this article I will refer to men and women from the perspective of their hormone levels.
Hormones impact our moods, our brain functions and therefore our energy levels. Men and women have different mixes of hormones, and the levels of these differ throughout their cycles.
Men – 24 hr circadian rhythm, testosterone is highest in the morning, and they may feel most energetic then. Energy slump after lunch around 3pm
Women – 24hr circadian rhythm + monthly cycle. After a good sleep we are refreshed and more alert, and do face the afternoon slump, but we have a larger hormonal factor in the background which adds a further dimension. If you want more in-depth info on this check out ‘Wild Power’ (link below).
So we have a hormone effect, but what else? Diet, how much sleep, how much and what type of exercise, how hydrated we are can all contribute to how our energy is impacted. These are external forces, things we can control….. but so what?
This might seem like a big exercise, but some academic papers suggest up to 30% productivity improvement, but just switching and scheduling tasks to match your energy levels.
Part of the exercise of looking at the tasks you have to do and assigning low, medium and high energy should have already highlighted to you a rough prioritisation level. Some tasks need to be done every day eg, email review, and some are important projects with deadlines.
I break tasks down into 3:
Urgent – something that was unplanned, but really needs to be done today
Deadline – takes a few days/ weeks of work, but had a hard deadline
Sloggers – needs to be kept on top of, but not necessary to be every day
As you can see from my concept above, slogger tasks tend to be low energy, and as such can be scheduled during these periods. Urgent tasks tend to need high energy, so try to schedule them at these times. Key point is this is a recommendation and sometimes you have no option but to do what needs to be done, and then you just need to react.
Everyone has an idea of what needs to be done – some use to do lists, some keep it in their heads. But that is usually just the deadline and urgent tasks, not the sloggers on those lists. By capturing it all, then you can decide what task is first, depending on how you feel – it’s about awareness. When can you be most productive, have the highest energy and prioritise the tasks to that time.
I will take a moment to focus on sloggers. The email reviews, the social media checking – we do this (maybe not at the best time – but we do it). What about keeping on top of our business expenses and accounts? Do you update these once a week? This is an example where logging expenses weekly can be a lot quicker than doing it all in one go when you need to submit accounts to an accountant. Another example is social media posting. Do you have a plan of when you will post? Can you prepare these posts in advance and automate the posting of them? This is easier and more efficient that feeling stressed that you haven’t posted for 2-3 days and you need to do it….
Sometimes you have this big to do list, and you are soooo busy, but at the end of the day you wonder what did you get done? Hmmm the grass was cut, the ironing done, looked at holidays for the summer, but nothing really disappeared from your to-do list. This is especially valid if you have a large project with a deadline.
Studies have shown that this procrastination is “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.
So now we understand a bit of the why – what can we do about it? Google procrastination and you find a lot of suggestions. Below is what works for me and my justification…
But hang on…. is this a flaw? I don’t think so, and neither does Prof John Perry.
I do some of my most out of the box thinking when I am procrastinating, I can be creative, innovative and a bit wacky…. And my tasks always get done. So, my opinion is to understand your drivers, acknowledge it and get your tasks done. Sometimes you will procrastinate, and something will develop out of that time, but just be careful not to procrastinate 100% of the time and not deliver.
What a topic! It definitely generated a lot of discussion….. We could deep dive on this for so long, but below are some of the links to info that I found helpful!
www.Focusmate.com Gives accountability, you team up and commit to work for x period of time, then you have a chat and celebrate at the end!
www.Monday.com This is recommended to me almost every day…..
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/focus-keeper-time-management/id867374917 (also avail on android) Based on pomodoro technique