As our work increasingly gets parsed down into tasks that could be performed remotely and on our own, the industrial age 9 to 5 is increasingly under scrutiny. More than ever, we have to learn how to manage energy, not time. Though it makes sense for people to convene together at set times, it is difficult to make everyone conform productively to a set time-frame. Some of us are simply not attuned to being productive first in the morning. Some, like me, are. So if I have to waste my most highly attuned hours of focus and concentration on a bus, bike, or car commuting to get somewhere, then I will protest.
While it cannot work all the time, managing our time by energy levels rather than some industrial age work-clock empowers us to be healthier and more productive workers. Over years of monitoring my own work schedules as a member of the Fortune 500 corporate workforce, the ragtag start-up team, the growing business, or just a bunch of dreamers in room taping Post-It ideas to the wall, here’s what I graphed about myself:
I rarely use an alarm clock to rise. I follow circadian rhythms. I let nature wake me whenever possible and have chosen to live in Fairfax, high enough in woodsy nature though within striking distance to the hustle of Silicon Valley. I meditate immediately for about 10 minutes after rising to focus my brain on the present moment and prime my brain mindfulness on my upcoming tasks of the day. At this moment, I know that for whatever nature or nurture reason, my brain is primed to focus on difficult and cumbersome jobs. On some days, I drink a bullet proof coffee to provide my body enough sustenance to work while not losing time on a wholesome breakfast (sorry, mom). Commuting is out of the question. I just want to work on my craft.
So I make the coffee and enter into a 90 minute work sprint. My energy levels are peaking at first light and will continue thriving, provided I have the right nourishment, until 11:30am. Unless it’s something high priority, I will not schedule a meeting nor commute during this window of time.
As the day continues, my energy wanes during the midday period which makes it an ideal time to eat lunch, preferably in the company of others, or go on a run. And as the day continues, my energy levels spike again around 4pm and I can get an equally productive sprint till the early evening.
Yes, the utopian schedule is not possible for everyone on every day. Kids need to be picked up from school, our bosses’ priority takes precedence, and that next client loves meeting at 10am. Yet we can be more mindful when we are effective working on our tasks and communicating them openly to our colleagues, partners, and family.
And once you can plot your energy levels, you can openly discuss how to make that work for your schedule with those most important in your life. After all, our pursuits that we craft into life help make the world a nicer place to live in so doing them better should be everyone’s goal. And if you are a weapons’ contractor or evil-doer, please disregard this entire blog. You should be as inefficent as possible.
Yours in Progress,