Aytekin Tank is the Founder and CEO of JotForm, an online forms platform for more than 3.7 million users worldwide. Like many successful entrepreneurs, he’s an advocate for getting it done in the mornings.
Tank’s also one for encouraging work within an individual’s ‘peak hours’. He says “waking up at 6am won’t make you successful” by default. But channeling and protecting your own natural productivity can be a springboard to a successful day. Whether that’s first thing, last, or anytime in between.
And when it comes to peak hours, you don’t get more peak than power hour. A productivity manufacturing technique so flawed, recruitment businesses started dropping it when their good staff left to join companies that already had.
In a study published in ‘NeuroImage’ in 2014, Jessica Rosenberg and colleagues at RWTH Aachen University in Germany link an individual’s productivity to their “chronotype”: whether you’re an early riser or a night owl.
“Ideally, work schedules should fit in with chronotype-specificity whenever possible”.
Perfect timing for peak productivity is unique to individuals. Aytekin Tank cites identifying and maximising this timeframe as the cornerstone of JotForm’s success over the last decade or so.
Here’s how you can find your own power hour and supercharge your day.
Chronobiology is the science of biological clocks. It attempts to link astrological movements to brain activity. Which makes you sound like a lunatic if you put it like that.
Instead think of circadian rhythms, like the movement of the sun coinciding with your sleep cycle. Ultradian rhythms are cycles that repeat multiple times a day. Like switching between deep sleep and REM every 1-2 hours.
Peaks and troughs in productivity are thought to work in similar cycles when you’re awake. So the goal is to identify the time, or times, during the day you’re at your most productive.
You’ll either know when your peak hours are already or you’ll want to track it.
A spreadsheet credited to Trello’s Lauren Moon takes a 1-10 input next to corresponding time slots for energy, focus and motivation. It automatically produces line graphs to visualise your productivity levels throughout the day.
Download Find Your Most Productive Hours. It’s recommended you track for 3 weeks but you’ll start seeing patterns quickly.
Match tasks that require the most energy or focus with high productivity peaks and assign less energetic or less focused work to the troughs.
Peaks are where you’ll group the bulk of your sales calls. It could also be the time you spend getting a sales presentation finished or resolving a contractor issue. Whatever requires your best effort. And the greater the peak, the more attention-worthy the task.
Conversely, low productivity troughs are the best time to get creative with your work. It’s why you get your best ideas in the shower.
Anything that requires a more relaxed state of mind, with maybe a smattering of abstract thought here and the occasional worldy of a brain fart there. Things like getting stuck into a meaty search or taking your time over an ad.
These are the things to fill your lower productivity moments with, as it’s when you can be most creative. Moving your schedule around’s less about prioritising tasks and more about prioritising time.
Recruitment typically sets its day up to tackle the most time sensitive tasks first. Obviously very logical when you’ve got deadlines.
So you go at your highest priority first expecting to get it out the way in a matter of hours. Blink and it’s taken all day. Or a hot contract’s come in and everything else’s been put on the back burner.
Sometimes recruitment gets in the way of a well laid day plan. But if you can, be disciplined. And communicate proactively with anyone that needs to know your attention’s going to be off them for a bit. This works particularly well on micromanagers.
Try to avoid non-essential meetings during your peak productivity hours. There’s nothing worse than being trapped in the boardroom when you NEED to be at your desk.
The whole purpose of this is to illustrate how productivity comes in waves. And bursts of productivity don’t ever work unless you’re getting adequate off-time as well. If you’re constantly on, you’ll eventually plateau. That leads to burnout.
Tough one to spot by yourself so here’s The secret to spotting ‘Burnout’ and ways to combat it and 7 mindsets that can lead to burnout.
Protect your downtime the same way you’d protect your peak hours. And if you have no idea how, bookmark How To Unwind from a Day in Recruitment for the commute home.
Whether this technique’s effective or not lives and breathes in how invested you are in tracking your productivity.
There’s a broader movement – lifelogging – which goes a bit beyond inputting numbers on a spreadsheet. And plenty of apps track calories, sleep, heart rate – any biometric your phone can record – to assist with what’s essentially data-led narcissism.
So this article’s admittedly quite basic. But if you’re interested in quantifying yourself you might be able to fine tune your productivity and squeeze every minute of peak time out of your day.
If that’s too much effort, try the Pomodoro technique. The idea’s simple. Work exclusively on one thing for 25 minutes. Then take a 5 minute break. Repeat during peak hours to boost focus.
And if you’ve been tracking your productivity lately and just aren’t motivated where you are, have a look at The 7 Best Companies for Flexible Working.
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