Productivity Series: Find Your Peak

Being productive almost never happens spontaneously. We usually have to be intentional about it and actually plan out what we’re going to do. There’s this saying, “If one fails to plan, one plans to fail,” and it is so true. Plans give us direction and clarity. They tell us the exact steps we are going to take to get a desired outcome. A game plan, for instance, shows players the exact moves they’re going to make in order to win the game. Thus, when they go into the game, they know how to navigate different plays and execute the right strategies. Planning is how we play smart in the game of life and success.

Planning is much more powerful than we realize. It reduces stress and minimizes distractions. When we plan out a vacation, for example, we know exactly what we’re going to do during that trip. We don’t have to stress over what we will or won’t experience, because we already planned it out. We also don’t have to worry about getting too distracted along the way, because we know which activities to focus on.

Planning is how we assertively direct our lives in the direction we want it to go. Experts recommend making your goals specific and setting realistic deadlines for each one. I can’t guarantee that if you make a to-do list, you’re going to be productive and get things done. Countless times my to-do lists have failed to motivate me and I’ve found myself procrastinating. We can plan out the things we want to get done, but if we don’t have the motivation or energy to do them, we either won’t get them done well or we won’t do them at all.

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Instead of aimlessly making to-do lists and hoping to do them at some point, I’ve decided to find and maximize my peak hours. We all have hours of the day when we naturally tend to be most alert and productive. Productivity expert Chris Bailey created a spreadsheet that can help you track  your productivity levels and find your peak hours (visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6X0IsWnb3Y3NVFJZHgtSV9rSG8/view?usp=sharing). You can probably guess when your peak hours are without completing the spreadsheet. I figured that between 8 to 10 a.m and 4 to 6 p.m., I tend to have the most overall drive and energy to get things done. This is when I typically go to the gym, do my homework, or successfully commit to purposeful projects. At any other time of the day, I’m either exhausted, distracted, or simply unmotivated. I could still get stuff done, but it won’t be as efficient. For instance, I could go to the gym at 10 p.m, but I know I wouldn’t push myself as much and it’d be a waste of time.

In essence, a to-do list works out great if you’re intentional about it. It’s about doing the things that matter when you are at your peak. Find your peak, then plan to maximize that time by dedicating it to the right activities.