Employees share their most productive time to work
When are you most productive? Do you get the most work done in the morning when you first arrive at the office or does it take you an hour or two to reach that optimal workday flow? How about after lunch? Does that falafel sandwich get you ready to face the rest of the day or does it put you to sleep? Maybe you hit your stride as the end of the workday nears, spinning out of the turn for a mid-afternoon sprint to the finish line.
“We’d like to think we go full speed from nine to five every day, but that’s hardly the case,” says Donald Gould, a social worker in Providence, Rhode Island. “If someone can put together three or four hours of focused, uninterrupted work, that’s often enough to get their work accomplished.”
Gould, who teaches coping and communication strategies to adult workers, says that the typical employee’s most productive hours depends on a variety of factors, including sleep, diet, stress, ADHD tendencies and more. “Work isn’t a bubble these days,” Gould says. “We’re accessible to our friends and family, we can constantly check in on the outside world, and we’re being pulled in a million different directions, depending on our responsibilities at home.”
That’s why Gould feels it’s important to find the time of day when you do your best work. “It’s that sweet spot, the time when everything is flowing and you feel like you’re totally zoned in on
your work,” he says. “The key is to identify your best time and to save your most important work for when you get into that zone. Fill the rest of the time with responding to emails, checking on the progress of other projects and doing those small but necessary tasks that need to get done.”
Time well spent
We asked several people to identify their most focused time of day and — if possible — to explain why those particular hours proved to be the most productive. Here’s what they had to say:
“I’m a morning person all the way, so I get my best work done before I even get to the office. I try to wake up around 5 a.m. every morning and check emails and respond before I shower and get my kids ready for school. There’s just something about working on my laptop at my kitchen table that makes me focused and efficient.” — Janet Kelly, Chicago
“I think I do my best work between 10 and two. I don’t really take a lunch with my current job. I usually just bring a sandwich from home and eat at my desk. I like the fact that the office is semi-empty for a couple of hours with people coming and going to lunch. Just something about a little less noise in the background and a little less movement in front of me makes me focus on the things I have to do and not on whatever else is going on around me.” — Theresa Loverde, Orland Park, Illinois
“Definitely the morning. I get so much done between eight and 10 that I can pretty much coast for the rest of the day. I’m not saying that to come across as lazy or unmotivated, I’m just saying that if you took the average employee and condensed everything they do in the day, I’m guessing that it would come down to two or three hours. People waste a lot of time, myself included. I mean, there are days when I start looking up stuff on Google or I get angry about that something that’s happening politically and my day is shot. That’s why I stay off of all social media networks until noon so I can do as much as possible before I get sucked into the world of Donald Trump and Kylie Jenner.” — Stephanie Washington, Indianapolis
“I work until around 6:30 or seven every night and I definitely get super-productive as the day ends. Dealing with constant emails during the day sidetracks me. But when it’s after five, I don’t feel guilty at all about not responding to someone’s email because as far as I’m concerned, they’re not expecting an answer until the next day. It’s nice to tune it out for a couple of hours and get some real work done.” — Aaron Baker, Chicago
“I get my best work done at home, after eight or nine at night when my kids go to bed. I never wanted to be a person that worked from home, but there are so many advantages to just focusing on the most important issues I have to face when I am in my home office and no one is bothering me. My kids go to bed around eight and my wife stays up for a couple hours reading, so I use that time to do some work. I figure that two hours a night for now is a pretty good investment in my future, especially if those two hours are my two most productive hours of the day.” — Adam Pike, Ocala, Florida — Marco Buscaglia, Careers
It’s important to find the time of day when you do your best work.