The other day I found myself kicking myself for being mentally fried by lunch time. It probably has something to do with the fact I’m reading The Four Winds right now and reading about how much these people had to endure during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression has me feeling a little… soft. Like c’mon, toughen up. If they had to work in fields all day and eat nothing but a few watery beans, surely I can buckle down in the afternoon and get some stuff done from the comfort of my cushy home, right?
I know productivity is not a competition, but still…
Anyway I started to do a deep dive into why I am the way I am and found that to be fruitless. No matter how much I want to discuss personal investments or technology stuff with David in the evenings after dinner, the fact is that my brain simply doesn’t work after about 6:00 PM.
I decided instead of feeling guilty about this, I’d embrace my natural rhythms and more consciously match my daily tasks with my energy.
Here’s a look at how it breaks down for me (though obviously the flow of energy for you will most likely be different)…
5:30 AM – 8:00 AM: High energy. Anything and everything that fall under a creative category goes here. In the early morning quiet, I feel fresh and my mind is alive. This is my time to write blog posts, my newsletter, and any other copy or journaling.
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Still fairly high energy. The mom and educator energy is strong during this time. My energy is still up so I take advantage of it to homeschool the girls – IE: read stories with enthusiasm, patiently (most of the time) explain math concepts, do experiments, etc. During this time I will also often prep dinner components, empty the dishwasher, etc.
12:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Medium energy. My mental ability to focus fades, but physically I’m still just fine. I fill this time with tasks that require less thought, like laundry, cleaning, editing pictures, administrative house stuff, etc. If we still have school stuff to do, I try and save the parts that require the least of me for this time period- Mystery Science videos or Reading Eggs for example.
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Medium energy. I’m starting to feel done for the day but a scoop of pre workout works it’s magic and pumps me up for our afternoon workout. Madeline Moves never lets me down and an hour of movement feels so good and officially drains the rest of my energy.
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Low energy. I am basically just going through the motions of making dinner and tying up loose ends from the day, etc. As the days start to get lighter later, I have a little more energy and am up for a family stroll in the neighborhood, but nothing that requires much of me.
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Low, low energy. This is my chill time. I’ll read to the girls, then I’m pretty much couch bound. I’m up for chitty chatting with David, reading, or watching something, but that’s about it. This is where I used to feel guilty because David can truly work at anytime of day. If he had a side project (which we seem to always have #serialentrepreneurs) he could get to work on it at 8:00 PM and work for hours. But I’ve finally embraced…. not me.
While this schedule isn’t set in stone by any means, I’ve observed enough to realize in this season of life, this is my natural flow of energy and I do much better to embrace it and roll with it than fight against it. I’ve tried creative writing in the afternoon and it’s painful. I’ve used early morning creative energy for working out, and though I love the feeling of getting it done for the day, it eats up my creative energy time and I don’t get that back.
Is this something you’ve noticed in your own life? If so, here are a few points that have helped me, and hopefully they can help you match your tasks to your energy level as well.
5 Steps to Help You Match Tasks with Your Energy
- Figure out your natural rhythm. Are you a night person or a morning person? You might be able to change this to some degree, but I’ve found more success by embracing my natural circadian rhythm.
- Track your energy by hour. Just like a budget or a food diary, before you can make changes, it’s best to track what you’re doing first. Write down all the hours in the day, then take three days to note your energy levels each hour- low, medium, or high. You’ll probably start to see a trend.
- List out your tasks you do during the day. Mine look like: write posts, answer emails, answer DMs, do laundry, teach the children, work out, cook food, etc, etc. Then next to each task, note the energy level needed for you to complete it. Hint: most creative work is best done when energy levels are high.
- Organize your tasks into a new list by energy level needed to accomplish them.
- Time block. Write all the hours down in the day, noting your energy level beside each hour. Then, match your tasks by energy level and try out the schedule for a few a week. Pay attention, see what is working for you and what isn’t, then adjust as needed.
By doing this I realized that I was letting some low energy tasks take up my precious high energy space (like laundry or editing pictures). By noticing that, I am able to better protect my sacred high energy time of day and use it to my advantage.
Share with me- what are some things that help you make the most of your day?