The best times of the day to tackle your to do’s
It’s a typical situation. You wrote out a to-do list, set out to tick everything off…and somehow despite your attempts at organization; you didn’t manage to get everything done. Maybe you didn’t even manage any of it. Sometimes it’s because something major came up, but most of the time it boils down to not knowing how to maximize your productivity within the day.
The early bird gets the worm
Even if you’re by nature a night owl and can’t function in the morning without consuming a concerning volume of coffee, your productivity is still likely to peak in the morning. Studies suggest that within half an hour of getting out of bed – even if you had to drag yourself out rather than springing joyfully into the new day – your energy levels are starting to climb. By the afternoon, they’ll start to tail off. The power cycle is part of the circadian rhythm, or ‘body clock’, which affects your productivity throughout the day.
So the best time of day to get on with that checklist of things that need to get done is ‘first thing’. Naturally, sometimes this may not be possible – if you want to tackle odd jobs around the house but have to go to work, you may have just to get things done when you get home. Even then, doing them as soon as you get home is likely to be better than waiting until just before you go to bed.
Every so often
If this is the case then maybe it’s worth actually having a few separate to-do lists: things you need to do in the morning before you go to work, things that can get done on your lunch break, and things that need to get on with when you get home. You’ll avoid that crushing ‘i didn’t get everything done’ feeling and break things down into manageable time slots.
Prioritise the time
Even when you know when you’re most productive, realistically you still can’t get everything done in that window of opportunity. Instead, prioritize your to-do list. Urgent tasks first, and those that require more mental involvement.
Urgent emails may be best done the first thing so that they hit your recipient’s inbox at the start of the day and write them when your brain is getting into gear. Necessary but routine tasks such as filing or shredding old documents can wait until the afternoon when your productivity is naturally tailing off.
The first step to tackling your to do’s isn’t actually to decide when to tick things off the list – it’s making the list in the first place. Setting aside time at the end of the day to write out what you need to do the next day means that when you get up to get those odd jobs done or sit down at your desk at work, you don’t have to think about what needs doing. You can dive right in and get started when you’re at your most productive.