If you’re anything like me, you could use another hour or two in the day. Well, I’m unfortunately not a clock-rewinding magician, but I do have a strategy that’ll help you feel like you’ve gained an extra chunk of time: discovering your most productive hours of the day and protecting them with your life.
Jodi Wehling, in an article for People Matters, calls them your “golden hours.” In other words, those hours of the day when you’re most alert, most motivated, and most inspired to dive into your to-do list or inbox and get things done. If you think about it, you probably get twice as much done in your golden hours than you do at other points of the day.
For example, I typically feel like I have a super-human capacity in the mornings, whereas I start to struggle come 3 PM. Let’s say I have an article to write and a brainstorming meeting to have with my team. The brainstorming meeting is going to take an hour. The article might take an hour, if I bang it out in the morning, or it could take two, if I attempt to tackle it in the afternoon. So, by planning my schedule accordingly—i.e., holding the meeting later on—I’m essentially saving time in my day.
Not sure what your golden hours are? Inc. writer Damon Brown suggests spending a workday meeting-free. When your schedule isn’t dictated by others, you’ll be able to pay attention to your natural patterns of productivity peaks and valleys.
Once you’re aware of them, as Wehling writes: “…guard them with your life. Block the time and mark it as ‘busy.’ Resist the temptation to book this time for a meeting. This is your time. It is worth twice as much as other times in terms of what you can get accomplished.”
Now, I know this can be tough, especially if you’re not in total control of your schedule. And you may have to make adjustments based on what works best for your role or team. (I’ll occasionally schedule morning interviews for candidates who can only come in before work.)
If that’s the case, I still recommend talking to your co-workers or boss to see if you can keep at least an hour or two each day free for only your most important work. In fact, see if you can talk to the rest of the team about what their golden hours are. If your standing staff meeting is at 10 AM, but several people work best in the mornings, a shift in schedule just might improve productivity for everyone.
But overall, don’t feel guilty about protecting your best working hours. It’ll make you a more productive employee—and probably a happier person. And what boss doesn’t want that?