Whether you are just starting out as a business owner, or managing a well-established operation, you are most likely juggling a variety of projects, daily tasks, and new challenges throughout the week. You want to run your business effectively and efficiently, but with only 24 hours in the day, sometimes the biggest challenge is simply working out when to get things done!
It might be tempting to try to cram your important tasks over multiple hours to get it done and dusted, but this method could work against you. The human body, and working culture, works more efficiently if you respect certain natural rhythms and peak performance times. Your business will be healthier and more effective if you pay attention to these patterns.
Thankfully, small business capital experts at Headway Capital have taken a comprehensive look at the science to produce a guide outlining peak performance times, to help you get the most out of the working day.
Apparently, the early bird really does catch the worm when it comes to getting your message across. According to a Yesware study there’s a much higher chance (45%) of emails being opened and read between 6 and 7 am, compared with other times of the day. Social media posts also have higher engagement around breakfast time, as audiences are more receptive as their brains are waking up.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that early morning is the best time to write those emails and posts, however. Think about getting them ready at the end of the previous day, so they can be sent without fuss first thing. Rather than worrying about precise wording of correspondence, the early-morning brain is in ‘creative mode.’ This is when prefrontal cortex activity is at its peak, so it’s a great time for brainstorming and noting thoughts before the details of the day take over.
Don’t even think about scheduling meetings or any key tasks before this time. People are generally not available before ten — and their brains are most likely still waking up, anyway. You want to support your employees to work effectively, so make sure you get off to the right start.
Wait until mid-morning instead. This is when brain activity is at its optimal level, according to circadian and neuroscience experts at Oxford University. Now is a good time to schedule meetings and collaborative work-sessions, as the brain is in peak problem-solving and decision-making mode. People are also more likely to be open to suggestions, and come up with their own ideas and solutions.
According to Dr. Michael Breus in The Power of When, people learn best during the middle of the day. Between 10 am and 2 pm, the brain is in ‘acquisition mode,’ which means it is prime time to take on and retain new information. This is in contrast with the hours in the middle of the night — late-night work and study is totally counter-productive.
This means that just before or just after lunch are great times to schedule training and professional development sessions. You might be tempted to offer these sessions during lunch, but remember that people need a break to rest and refuel, or they won’t be as efficient later in the day.
The brain works differently in the afternoon. Decision-making is faster, but less accurate, so this is NOT the time to deal with critical issues. Focus on more low-stakes, practical ‘housekeeping’ type matters, instead.
People are generally more available in the afternoon, and they have more time to prepare for meetings and presentations, so now might be the time for that board meeting or video conference to get each other caught up on business.
The good news is that, if you time things right, you can finish off your day with a feeling of satisfaction and success. According to a Lead Response Management study, the success rate of business calls and sales pitches doubles between 4 and 5 pm, compared with other times of the day. But never attempt to call a client without agreement late at night — nobody likes that!
The end of the working day is a really good time to check in with your partners, colleagues, and employees. You can round up the day by agreeing on deadlines and expectations going forwards, and update your to-do lists to set yourself up for a good start the next day.
It’s worth considering the science when you are thinking about how to get the most out of your business, and the people you work with. Sometimes it pays to respond to how people work most comfortably during this day. If you do, peak performance and efficiency will come naturally!