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Ask the Entrepreneurs: The Most Productive Hours of the Day

Ask the Entrepreneurs: The Most Productive Hours of the Day

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What hour(s) of the day are you your most productive and why? What do you do?

1. Friday Evening

Christopher Kelly

    I am most productive on Friday evening when the week’s activities are all laid out in front of me and everyone else is gone. Then, I make it my job to bridge all five days worth of momentum into the following week by organizing my thoughts and plans into draft emails that get sent out first thing on Monday.

    Christopher Kelly, Convene

     

    2. Hours 2 to 6

    Neil Thanedar

      I’ve learned to build my daily to-do list around this time slot. On principle, I focus on one objective and three key tasks each day. Usually, I’ll warm up in the first hour with a task that can easily be completed within 30 to 60 minutes before throwing myself into these key projects worth my peak effort and intensity. All secondary objectives are restricted to hours 7 through 24.

      Neil Thanedar, LabDoor

       

      3. The Midnight Hour

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      Natalie McNeil

        From about 11:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., I always seem to get hit with a wave of energy and productivity. It’s usually when I get my writing done and answer media inquiries or interview questions. There’s something I love about getting a few things done when the neighbors’ lights are out and people are going to sleep.

        Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

         

        4. Before Meetings Start

        Derek Flanzraich

          I have time in the morning to plan ahead, complete my toughest task and catch up on social media. Then, it’s meetings time, and by the time they’re done, my brain’s rarely fresh enough to get anything really meaningful completed.

          Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

           

           

          5. Evenings

          David Ehrenberg

            In the evenings, I can finally find some undisturbed time to myself. This is my time to concentrate on all of the independent work I need to do that I never find time for during the day. I take this time to answer emails, review materials and address different projects.

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            David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

             

             

            6. Lunch

            Michael Portman

              Lunch punctuates every work day, and I try to keep at least a couple free every week to be alone with my thoughts. Things that bother me about my business may not come to the surface in the hustle of the day, and I find it most convenient to leave lunch open for those “aha” moments.

              Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop

               

               

              7. Mid-Morning to the Afternoon

              Michael Patak

                My most productive hours are probably from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. When I first get in, I check my priorities, organize my day and start getting on the grind around 11 a.m. Mental preparation in the morning really helps me.

                Michael Patak, TopstepTrader

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                8. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

                Andy Karuza

                  I have a lifestyle that I haven’t let go of since I was a kid, or maybe I’m just not a morning person. I’m very productive at night because I get a second wind around 7 p.m., and I can focus because the rest of the business world is dormant. At night I can focus with clarity on projects such as writing this response, doing reports, organizing myself and much more without my phone going off.

                  Andy Karuza, brandbuddee

                   

                  9. 5 a.m.

                  Corey Blake

                    I wake up each weekday at 5:30 a.m. to spend the first 30 minutes of my day writing. I journal about what I’m grateful for and about what I’m dreaming of living into that day. Setting up my day that way helps me focus and act from a place of appreciation before I start diving into projects and problem solving.

                    Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

                     

                    10. Morning

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                    John Meyer

                      It is hard to argue with morning being the most productive time of the day. Our focus is like a gas tank that we have to fill up each night. All the things in our life use up that focus fuel, and by the end of the day, it’s tough to be productive. I like to go to a coffee shop first thing and try to do high-value tasks such as planning and reading before I jump into the emails and meetings.

                      John Meyer, Lemon.ly

                       

                      11. 1 to 6 p.m.

                      Elizabeth Saunders

                        I’m most productive in the afternoon because in the morning, I take care of all of my emails, voicemails, small to-do items and planning. That leaves me free in the afternoon to work on projects, talk with clients, write articles and simply get things done.

                        Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

                         

                         

                        12. Nighttime

                        James Simpson

                          During the regular work hours, it is often impossible to get a lot of meaningful work done because of everything else going on around you. At night, when the office is quiet and the world around you is going to sleep, ultimate productivity can be achieved.

                          James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

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                          Trending in Productivity

                          1 How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want 2 How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement 3 5 Less-Known Reasons Why Less is More 4 10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance 5 How to Take Good Notes at Work: 6 Effective Ways

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                          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

                          How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                          How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                          What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

                          When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

                          In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

                          While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

                          As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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                            Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

                            Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

                            The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

                            But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

                            However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

                            This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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                            Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

                            We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

                            Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

                            Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

                            The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

                            When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

                            When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

                            How to Make Decision Effectively

                            Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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                            1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

                            You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

                            Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

                            Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

                            2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

                            You don’t have to choose all the time.

                            Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

                            Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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                            3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

                            You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

                            The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

                            Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

                            Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

                            So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

                            More Tips About Decision Making

                            Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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