If you’re a business owner, you likely get caught up spending entire days engaging in fruitless activities that don’t make you money more often than you’d like to admit. You could be busy literally the entire day and not move the needle in your business at all. Living in the fire fighting mode of reacting to everything that comes your way is no way to manage a successful business. Productivity is a choice you must make consistently if you want to see the dramatic results you desire in your business.
Be proactive with your time by exploiting your productivity sweet spot – the combination of factors that make you most productive. That entails honoring your unique circadian rhythms, being authentic to who you are, and creating a schedule in alignment with your energy levels and natural tendencies so you can show up as your best self for the high-value activities that will grow your business. You will get far better results showing up and working in your productivity sweet spot for two hours each day consistently when compounded over time, than working eight hours each day but only showing up sporadically when you feel like it. Exploiting your productivity sweet spot will increase your effectiveness and help you reach new heights in your business.
Components That Factor Into Your Productivity Sweet Spot
Your Natural Tendencies
Don’t fight who you are. Time management “experts” may tell you the “early bird gets the worm” but if you must fight an uphill battle to be a morning person, you’re only setting yourself up for failure because you’re battling against your natural tendencies and messing with your mindset. If you’re naturally a night owl and get your best work done when everyone else is asleep, own it and stop giving yourself grief over where the little hand on the clock rests.
Winston Churchill, one of the most successful and productive leaders of the 21st century, took a two-hour nap every day while others worked. He said this “siesta” allowed him to get one and a half days’ worth of work out of every 24 hours. Churchill was also a self-proclaimed night owl and often worked through the night. In fact, he sometimes held war cabinet meetings while taking a late night bath. Why? He knowingly honored his natural tendencies which enabled his productivity.
Your Working Environment
Your working environment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s worth doing some investigation to figure out where and how you work best depending on the types of projects and tasks you’re working on. Certain tasks may require different working environments. Perhaps you create content best in a noise- free, private office but need the hustle and bustle of a loud coffee shop to get your creative juices flowing while brainstorming business ideas.
Consider your ideal locations for tasks and projects when planning your days and creating your routines. If you sit at a kitchen table, that’s okay, but if your family comes home you may need to change the types of tasks you’re working on to ones that require less focus like checking your email.
Also, consider your workspace. Do your desk and chair promote good posture so your back is not in pain come lunch time? Does your office provide ample, natural light that improves your mood? Are your frequently used files and supplies within an arm’s reach? Is your workspace messy or clean? Many creatives claim a messy desk inspires their ideas while many others would not be able to function with the distraction of paper clutter in front of them. Make your work environment conducive to however you determine you work best.
Your Time Blocks
Most business owners work best in short bursts of focused energy which is why tools like the Pomodoro Techinque are popular. It trains you to focus for 20-minute periods of time after which you take a five-minute break. Other entrepreneurs like myself can focus for lengthier periods because over time, we’ve trained ourselves to focus for longer time blocks just as an athlete trains a muscle to do a repetitive exercise. Not everyone can achieve focus for long periods no matter how hard they train and that’s okay. The important thing is to honor the method you work best, whether that’s 20 minutes on/five minutes off, 90-minute blocks, or six-hour marathons. However you work best, schedule those blocks of time and exercise self-discipline to ensure your high-value activities get done.
Your Energy Flow
Be cognizant of your zone of genius and unique energy flow when scheduling your time. If you are not a detail-oriented person, you should not be doing detailed tasks for 60-minute blocks of time. They will drain you of needed energy so don’t load up your day up with such tasks back-to-back either. Alternatively, when you work in your zone of genius, tasks will fuel you and prompt energy to flow in the desired direction – toward you.
Certain types of situations can also be like energy-sucking vampires and they differ for everyone. If you’re an extrovert, you typically gain energy when engaging with other people. Such interaction lights you up and fuels you. If you’re an introvert, you generally feel depleted after a lengthy time engaging with others. Whenever possible, switch off between energy increasing and energy decreasing tasks. Running on empty all day long is exhausting and not sustainable.
Exploiting your productivity sweet spot is not an excuse to do whatever you want based on how you feel. Being lazy and laying around watching Netflix all day may be your natural tendency but doing so is hardly showing up as your best, most productive self. Be true to the best version of you and hold your productivity sweet spot sacred. Maybe you’ve determined you’re a night owl… who works best on a full stomach… in a private office… with a messy desk… while listening to classical music. Awesome! That’s your productivity sweet spot! But it’s only going to work if you stay committed to settling right down into your productivity sweet spot to work whenever you have scheduled the time.