Look up, take a deep breath and picture a fuel gauge, like on a car’s dashboard. How full is your tank? Now consider the rest of the day’s “driving conditions”. Will you be stuck in traffic as the needle dips towards empty or is there smooth sailing ahead? Do you have far to go or just around the corner? Will you need to fuel up and if so, how?
Our energy levels change throughout the day and we do best when we work according to what’s in our tank. Check out these simple ways to optimize fuel efficiency and get more done.
Plan the Route: Taking a minute before distractions pull us into reactive mode to plan how we’ll complete three (or so) daily priorities is a great way to stay on the right road. Using a not-to-do list is another proven way to keep focused.
Make Miles Early On: Our tanks are topped off in the morning, making it the perfect time to limit distractions, focus on priorities and keep the pedal to the metal. Don’t let email, texts or social media distract you from covering significant ground first thing.
Use a Rest Stop: Even under the best conditions we maintain our attention best when we give it a rest. There are a number of popular models; our clients report that using a 50/20 model, 50 minutes of uninterrupted focused work punctuated by 20 minutes with less discipline, is helpful.
Cruise Control: As the day wears on, our energy will ebb. Afternoons are perfect for tasks that we can “cruise” through; responsibilities that won’t require as much creativity, attention or focus. Put these less demanding things on afternoon’s to-do list.
Refuel: No matter how the day goes, we’ll need to refill our tank. Instead of more coffee or sugar, try drinking water, getting up and walking or stretching, eating a snack full of protein or cranking up the tunes.
Park It: When the day is done, unplug and take a real break from driving. It’s not like we drive to our destination and then sit in the car or continually check to make sure we turned off the AC right? Likewise, when the workday is done, leave it behind.
Paying attention to our energy levels throughout the day is an easy way to work smarter. Check in periodically and get a sense of the daily rhythms, then schedule tasks according to what’s in the tank. Be sure to start strong, take breaks, refuel wisely and enjoy the ride.