We’ve just finished the 2 day kick off to the athlete at work® programme and really enjoyed some interesting conversations around performance in these testing times. One of the most interesting discussions was around the perceived pressure to get more done in less time. Wouldn’t we all like that? So, when we talked about being mindful about what tasks people are choosing to do, at what times of day, it seemed to really strike a resonant chord. The group reached the conclusion that they would get more done in less time if they worked more in line with their their natural energy rhythms throughout the day. If this sounds deceptively simple, then that pleases us immensely… it suggests it might just work!

So, stop for a moment and think about which points of the day coincide with your most effective work? When does work feel easiest? Is it in the morning? Late afternoon? Evening?

Now have a think about those times in the day when work seems a little harder. When do you find it tougher to concentrate? When do those meetings just seem to drag? Are there times when you have a slump in energy? For many people, early afternoon is a time of reduced effectiveness – but not everyone, so have a think.

What are you choosing to do with these different times? If you’re someone who is most productive first thing in the morning, then how can you make the most use of this time each day? And if you’re more of an evening person, what work are you saving up for your best working time? This is when your most challenging and important tasks are likely to get done most effectively and efficiently. So be selective about what you do and when you do it!

Which activities are best left for the naturally less productive times? Perhaps the less taxing elements of your work, or something that you find really energising to do, or you could even choose to meet with someone who you find interesting to work with and who doesn’t drain your energy levels (they might even top them up!). In your less productive times it’s probably best to avoid the business critical tasks (I know they’re all business critical, but some of those emails are less important than others!). You’re less likely to do key activities with the quality and focus that they require when everything is feeling like a grind. The key tasks are likely to take longer and you’re more likely to make errors.

So, don’t just use up your time every day – focus on using your time mindfully. Time is a precious thing and it’s even more important to use it optimally in such interesting and challenging times.