[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”565px” height=”” background_color=”#e4e4e4″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]This is the first post on my blog from Daniel Kosmala. He is currently a nonprofit manager for Radical Mentoring. Through years of making countless mistakes, Daniel has discovered how to not only be an efficient manager of his time and resources, but also how to focus on the things that matter most. You can read more from him on his own blog, danielkosmala.com. He will be posting here on asmithblog.com every Saturday to give us tips on how we can improve our focus and time management in our lives.[/dropshadowbox]
I am normally up and in my office by 7 AM every day of the week unless I sleep through my alarm.
(I promise it doesn’t happen that often…)
I love getting in my office early for a couple of reasons:
1. If you don’t know this already, Atlanta traffic can be really difficult to deal with. In other words, it is miserable. By aiming to get to my office by 7, I beat the morning rush and I can get a healthy jumpstart on the day.
2. I am far more productive in the early morning hours than the mid to later afternoon hours.
3. If I get to the office by 7, then I can leave by 3 and miss afternoon traffic. This helps me get to the gym before the 5 o’clock rush and allows me to work a bit more from home or pursue other side projects/opportunities.
Those three factors are more than enough to motivate me to wake up and get a jump on my day. All that to say, I love starting my work day at 7AM and luckily for me I am usually extremely productive between the hours of 7AM and 12PM.
There is something about being up early, having my coffee and diving head first into the day’s obstacles and projects that feels great. I regularly go for five solid hours before I come up to get some air, but between 11:30 and 12:30 something happens… I slam head first into a wall. My productivity slows and my focus goes out the window. My brain gets fried from the previous 5 hours and refuses to do anything more until I take a break or do something non-work related.
I suppose I could easily do the typical work for X amount of time and then take a break for X amount of time, but I honestly prefer not taking a break unless I have no other options. I know I am not the only one who runs into the productivity wall. I have talked with plenty of people who have had similar experiences, but never bothered figuring out a way to cope. Instead they try to bluster through the drop in brain activity and end up surfing the Internet mindlessly or they end up on Facebook and Twitter letting an hour pass before they realize what has happened.
I would guess that there are probably some areas where you slack off, too; specific times during the day where you are lacking. It has happened to me numerous times. I have found myself mindlessly surfing only to realize I have blown an hour and gotten nothing done. I paid for it later when I should have been spending time with people I cared about, but instead I was working late making up for those lost minutes.
Here’s my two cents on that if it happens to you regularly…
If you are the type of individual, like me, who trucks through things and then comes up gasping for air when you reach your critical mass, back off. Let the dust settle. Take anywhere from 5-30 minutes and recuperate. For some of you, that may mean taking a solid 30 minutes for a lunch break. For others, like myself, that means closing all work related windows on my laptop and opening up the ones that allow my brain to relax (i.e. Youtube, Reddit, Wimp.com, Dump.com). I love watching videos and mindlessly looking at memes (don’t judge me!).
But, I set a limit. I either set a timer on my watch or limit myself to one page of browsing. I can look at any of the memes or videos on that page, but I can’t go to the next page. If I’m not in the mood for that kind of thing, then I’ll pop a book out of my workbag and read for a few minutes. I have even taken a 15 minute nap at my office before.
Just do what needs to be done for your mind to decompress and relax after the sprint it has already been through. If you don’t, you will find yourself dragging for the rest of the day. You can try to fight through it, but it is just going to make the day longer and more difficult to get through. Taking a 15-30 minute break is completely feasible and will help boost your productivity for the rest of the day.
Figure out what works for you and schedule it in to your workday. I promise that you will notice a difference. Try it out this next week if you have never done it before and report back here to let me know how it went.
If you already do this, I would love to know how you decompress on your breaks! You can leave your comment below.