Guide to Building the Perfect Workday
Planning out your workday can be stressful. In fact, most of us aren’t really planning it out as much as we’re just trying to get through it. Luckily enough, this helpful hour-by-hour guide will help break things down.
6:00 a.m. Wake Up and Ditch the Coffee
Sleep deprivation accounts for about $16 billion in medical costs each year. Everyone tries to avoid sleep debt, but don’t blame your morning grogginess on late nights. Waking up tired has more to do with the pattern of sleep rather than the duration. Even with a full night’s rest, if you happen to wake up during your deepest sleep cycle (REM), you’ll end up feeling sluggish and disoriented. To get more in sync with your REM cycle, you’re going to need to put in some work ahead of time. Track your sleep cycles and set your alarm to the hour of lightest sleep. You’ll wake up so refreshed you may not even need the caffeine boost.
According to Adam Dave, M.D., “consuming a big glass first thing in the morning brings unique rewards.” Since your stomach is empty, ten minutes after waking is the perfect time to drink water, because it won’t interfere with digestion. Keep a water bottle on your nightstand so you can reach for it while still in bed. Your body is naturally dehydrated after a long sleep. Immediately rehydrating will help you feel energized throughout your morning.
7:00 a.m. Load up on Food
Let’s break down the dangers of missing your first meal. When you wake up, blood sugar is usually low. By skipping breakfast, you deprive your body the fuel it needs to stay energized. Fasting until lunchtime can trigger cravings for high sugar snacks, causing you to over-eat and knock your appetite off balance. Here are some fast and easy recipes to prep before rushing out the door.
Get outside within two hours of waking up. Exposure to the sun triggers the production of serotonin. Just a simple ten-minute walk will get your mind and body moving. If your schedule permits, incorporate some exercise to knock out your daily workout before anything has a chance to interfere. Here are six benefits to being a morning exerciser.
9 a.m. Tidy Up Your Inbox
To avoid obsessing over your inbox throughout your workday, dedicate 9 a.m. to just email. Not only is it consumer hour, but in this timeframe your emails are more likely to be read right away. People tend to focus more on high-priority projects by 10 a.m. so it is best to contact them before they’re too busy to respond. If your recipients are from different time zones, here are apps to schedule messages in advance.
9:30 Perk Up
It’s coffee time when your cortisol levels begin to drop. Save the coffee break for 9:30 a.m. You avoid building a tolerance to caffeine when you time your coffee breaks just right. While it may be tempting to perk up before even starting the day, early morning caffeine intake diminishes its energy-boosting effects.
Tackle work that requires the most concentration at 10 a.m. The increase in attentiveness makes you less prone to distractions and more likely to get things done. Consider scheduling high priority projects and mentally taxing activities for this hour of your workday.
10:52 a.m. Don’t Just Take a Break, Unplug
Give yourself 17 minutes to completely detach from your workday. In a study on time-tracking and productivity, the most productive 10% of workers shared one unsuspecting trait -their ability to take effective breaks. Specifically, they work in 52 minute blocks, intersected by 17 minute break times. Try taking a short walk around the building or having a quick snack away from your desk. Effective breaks allow your mind to rest so that you can fully engage when it’s time to work again.
12:00 – 1 p.m. Have a Square Meal
Aim to eat lunch at noon (or at least before 1 p.m.). You may be tempted to stick it out to meet that deadline, but you probably aren’t the most productive when your stomach is louder than your thoughts. Here are six more reasons why you shouldn’t skip lunch.
A short 20-minute catnap can extend alertness a few hours for the rest of your day. That means you can finish work strong instead of idly staring at the clock. If there isn’t enough time or your workplace isn’t nap-friendly, use this time on activities that don’t require a lot of mental energy, such as filing, deleting emails, or bookkeeping.
3:00 p.m. Pocket This Time for a Meeting
The perfect time to have a staff meeting is when employees are enthusiastic and willing to participate. By 3 p.m., food coma wears off and workers regain their attentiveness. Any earlier, employees are sleepy or distracted, thinking about the work on their desk. Any later, employees are eager to wrap up so they can go home.
Don’t forget the quality in quality time. Spend at least an hour having a real face-to-face, human connection. According to Dr. Robert Brooks, professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, “We should consider appropriate guidelines for the use of smartphones, tablets, and other devices…so that technology does not interfere with the establishment of positive family relationships.” Refrain from responding to emails or complaining about the busy workweek ahead. Acquainting yourself with the present moment will enrich your relationships and enhance your work-life balance.
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