Time management Monday: what to do during your least productive hours

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alex on the desk. yawning.


We all have them: those times of the day when our mental energy wanes. Maybe you’re a slow starter in the morning, or that post-lunch slump is hitting you. You still need to get things done, so choose less taxing activities to do during those times. Here are some ideas for things to do during those less-productive hours.

Filing: Low-energy times are a good time to tackle the filing (paper or electronic), but only if you have already made your decisions on how and where they should be filed. Low mental energy times are not good times to make decisions, so this task might feel too daunting if you have to decide where to put things.

Communications: Now might be a good time to reply to emails or messages, but again only if you don’t have to make big decisions. Blocking out some time to batch your communications is a good use of time.

Physical tasks: If you’re at home, fold laundry or clean the bathroom. At work, tidy your desktop or drawers. These preparatory actions are valuable because the results will streamline your work later.

Do what your body needs: When you’re feeling draggy, that’s your body telling you it needs a break. Go for a walk or run to perk up. Or if your batteries are really depleted, catch a nap.

Flip through your planner: This is my favorite way to get back on track. Flipping through my planner lets me see reminders of deadlines and events coming up, plans for this and upcoming weeks, people I need to get back to and actions I need to take. It gets the mental gears going again, so I come back ready for action.

Do nothing: Most likely, you need some actual downtime, which I wrote about in this post. Don’t get on the internet, that will just make you more tired. Let your brain rest. Give yourself some no-input time. Allow yourself to get bored. This is when the real brain-things happen and great ideas come through. So go sit on a park bench somewhere and watch the world for awhile. Just be sure to take a notebook with you, just in case you need to capture those brilliant ideas as they come.

What do you do during your least productive times?

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