Only you can say when you feel most energetic in a day (a great time to workout) and when you feel most focused (the best time to do work that requires critical thinking).
Tip #2 is: Maximize your energy.
This kind of planning takes a lot of self-awareness. You’ve got to understand when your body and mind hit the typical peaks and valleys throughout the day. As a busy wife and mom who works both inside and outside the home (meaning I have a home office from which I run my business and non-profit and a part-time gig working for my church), I have become very aware of when I’m best at doing what. It is imperative for successful people — especially busy visionaries who may already be tipping the scales of their responsibilities, to know how to maximize their energy cycles.
For example, I know my critical thinking skills and creativity are at their highest in the morning. When I first wake up, in that quiet time with my coffee, I can read in-depth philosophy or theology, do math (something I attempt to avoid at all costs), write an essay that’s somewhat abstract, or create a strategic plan for the next five years. I can do that for about five hours (minus the hour it takes to get my kids ready and off to school). At around 10 or 11 am, however, I start to get fidgety and unfocused. I find myself plugging into Facebook and zoning out.
That’s how I know it’s time for a run.
Running re-focuses my brain so I can come back to the office and produce some more. But the stuff I’ll be producing is not the same. Afternoon becomes about making connections — it’s the time I’ll move out of my own thoughts a bit and begin to connect with the outside world. This is when I start returning emails, making the phone calls I need to make, maybe work on a marketing piece. That laser focus of the morning is gone and it’s time to open up to other influences.
So how do you use this skill in the different areas of your life? If you’re working a nine-to-five office job, it’s a little hard to go for a run mid-day. But one of the first tenets of success is start with reality, right where you are. The age-old adage about changing starts with changing is true here, as always. So ask yourself — is it really impossible to workout mid-day? Can you go for a walk instead of sitting in the lunch room?
Or, if that really is impossible (and it might be) then what are your alternatives? Working out before or after work, most likely. So what are you going to do about that?
Make the best choice for you, based on your energy cycle. What’s going to work best — a morning workout, or a jog in the park after work? Those are your two choices. Skipping a workout is not an option.
You can apply this skill to work and hobbies as well. When is the best time for you to do certain tasks, based on your energy levels? Once you have this answer, you can begin to construct your day for optimum productivity based on what you’ve learned. Lumping all your email management and returned phone calls together will maximize your time, limit interruptions, and bring you the highest level of success possible. Working out at your energy peak will enable you to push harder and faster for a more effective workout.
Take some time to pay attention over the next couple of days to your own bio-rhythms — when do you feel best? When do you feel worst? When do you get hungry, tired, sleepy, focused, or fuzzy? Jot them down in a notebook. At the end of the week, you’ll have a clear picture about how to structure your next week for success. Armed with this info, you’ll be able to plan your workouts and your work flow for optimal results.