Boost your productivity: Organize your tasks by your energy level

My typical workday goes something like this: (1) Get to work, (2) be highly focused until lunchtime, (3) have lunch, (4) stare dead-eyed at my monitor and mainline coffee, (5) revive and accomplish work for an hour or two, (6) head home.

A lot of us are like this: focused in the morning before crashing in the afternoon. Others, though, are worthless in the mornings and do their best work at night-time. Figuring out when you’re most productive is key to finishing your to-do list. The nice thing about being in university or being an entrepreneur is that you’re not required to be in a desk from 9am to 5pm—you have a degree of flexibility to plan and organize when you want to get certain tasks done.

Organizing your task list by your energy level requires two things: knowing when you’re most productive, and splitting your to-do list into “high-level tasks” and “low-level tasks.”

There’s not really a secret to figuring out when you’re most productive—you just have to observe your workflow, and notice when you are most focussed. If you find yourself craving a nap and checking your phone every two minutes in the afternoons, then you probably shouldn’t try to write your thesis during that time. If words flow effortlessly from your keyboard at night-time, though, then that’s the time you should use to get your best work done.

Once you figure out when you’re most productive, you should block out as much of that time as you can to complete your most focussed work. In my work with the Centre for Entrepreneurship, I try and use to mornings to complete high-level creative tasks, like writing blog posts. I use the time after lunch, when I’m at my least productive, to do mundane administrative tasks like typing up minutes—these tasks require very little mental energy, so I’m able to complete them even when all I want is to put my head down and nap at my desk.

To really maximize your high-focus time, separate your to-do list into mundane tasks and more complex tasks. More complex tasks might include writing, studying for exams, etc. More mundane tasks can include answering email, paying bills, etc. You could also consider adding in a third category for medium-level tasks—things like researching or completing a bibliography might fall into this category. The key thing is to know which tasks you want to accomplish during the times in which you have the most energy, so that you don’t fritter away that time on more mundane tasks you could complete later on.

That’s just one idea for organizing your day to be as productive at possible! In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more ideas for organizing your to-do lists and maximizing your productivity, so stayed tuned!