Take Back Your Time, Part 1: Ideal Working Hours
Do you feel like your time just slips away from you? I know that feeling! Time can be a very elusive thing, slipping through your fingers, completely running out before you even know it.
This is the first post in a new series about ways to take back your time by figuring out when your ideal working hours are, making the most of your down time, making time for rest and fun, and prioritizing and eliminating. Stay in touch to make sure you don't miss the rest of the series!
Know when you do your best work
Knowing whether you do your best work can be the key to getting more done during your day.
Think about it. If you try to tackle your biggest tasks when you're functioning at a subpar level, you're going to produce subpar work.
Do you work best in the morning or the evening? I'm more of a morning person. I know that if I don't do certain things in the morning, I'm not very likely to do them at all because I will procrastinate, run out of steam, or just decide they're not that important and skip them entirely.
That's why I work out and try to cross out my biggest to-do list items early in the day. Once I have a few big things under my belt, the rest of the day seems easier. If, however, I choose to sleep longer or spend my time doing things like cleaning out my email inbox, picking things up around the house, or mindlessly scrolling through social media, I'm apt to waste hours of my day doing basically nothing.
Know how to make your schedule work for you
If you have the ability to play around with your working hours or regular routine, try some different options! Maybe a different setup would work better for you. If nothing else, it could provide a refreshing change of pace!
In seeking to do deep thought or big tasks when you're at your best, consider getting up earlier if you're a morning person to have more time at your peak (or staying up later if you're a night owl).
Maybe you can alter your work hours if your company allows for it. Perhaps you can switch up your routine to get things done in a different, more efficient and enjoyable, order.
When I first started my job, I got the option to work 8-4:30 or 8:30-5, and because I wanted to get home earlier to get more done after work (before going to bed early like I do, because I get up early), I chose the earlier option. I also chose to have a 30-minute lunch break instead of an hour-long lunch break so I can go home earlier. And on the weekends, I still get up early so I can get in a run and some cleaning, writing, or cooking before too much of the day gets away from me.
Know what energizes you
Different people are energized by different things. We're all unique, and we don't respond to everything in the same way.
For instance, while I love spending time with my friends and family, being social all the time drains me of my energy and creativity. It leaves me sitting on the couch binge-watching a show on Netflix. On the other hand, getting out for a walk, reading a book, watering my garden, or curling up with a cup of tea and some stillness and quiet gives me space for my soul to breathe.
Of course, most of us can't eliminate all the things that drain us and still live healthy lives. I certainly wouldn't want to eliminate interactions with others just because too much social time leaves me tired.
It all comes down to finding the balance between energizing, fun things and practical, necessary, dull things. We have to pay our bills. We have to go to work. We sometimes have to sit in traffic. But we also get to go for walks, spend time with our people, eat good food, read books, pursue our hobbies, and do other things we enjoy.
If we make sure we get enough of the things that energize us, while trying to minimize the things that drain us, we can craft a more enjoyable, joyful life that we love. And if we leverage the energizing activities, we can power through the draining ones.
I encourage you to begin your day with something that energizes you, to get you pumped up for the rest of your day. From there, you can add energizing things to the rest of your day to break it up and keep you motivated to keep going, especially when you get to the end of your prime working hours (kind of like rewarding yourself for each task you accomplish). It will break up the monotony, remind you that life is good, and make your day more enjoyable!
I start my day with exercise and time with Jesus because not only do I need them to physically and emotionally function well as a human being, but because they give me the kickstart I need to start my day off on the right foot. And I break up my work day with a walk with my coworkers because I need to take a breath of fresh air and walk away from my computer before getting back to my to-do list. Those are the things that keep me going.
We can't eliminate all the things that drain us of our energy, but we can be mindful of how we spend our time-- when we choose to work, how we build our schedules, and how much we insert energizing activities into our lives. May we choose to take steps today toward building lives we love!
When do you do your best work? Do you have any tips or tricks for getting hard work done or crafting your schedule around your prime working hours? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!