There are certain hours when many people are most productive. Use these tips to guide employees to maximize their productivity during the workday.
Here's what you need to know:
- Peak productivity hours for many people are between 8:00 am-12:00 pm, so try to schedule your most important tasks during that time
- If employees feel overwhelmed or need help focusing, consider choosing only tasks with a high probability of giving you the most significant results
- Encourage workers to focus on 1 task at a time rather than multitasking
- No one can work nonstop, so let employees take breaks away from their desks
- People work best in comfortable environments that aren’t distracting and when they aren’t tired or hungry
The secret to employee productivity is simple: let your staff feel glad to work for you. They’ll get more work done feeling good and focused. But when people feel down or distracted, the mind wanders, and concentrating is hard.
So how do we get employees there? Peak productivity is when the body and brain work best together. For most people, that’s in the morning, so set your work schedule around those peak productivity times.
What are peak productivity work hours for most people?
Peak productivity is between 8:00 am-12:00 pm and is when most people are productive, motivated, and focused, so try to schedule your most important tasks during those times. Don’t schedule meetings during those critical hours.
Using peak productivity hours properly is essential to get the most out of your employees. You can do a few things in those peak hours that will bear the most fruit.
Follow the 80/20 rule
You may be surprised that you can get 80% of your results from just 20% of your effort. This is known as the Pareto Principle and is a fundamental principle in productivity. Try scheduling the tasks that will bear the most fruit for your business during peak productivity hours.
If employees feel overwhelmed or need help focusing, consider choosing only tasks with a high probability of giving you the most significant results. Then ask yourself if any other tasks are low-hanging fruit that can be efficiently completed without cognitive overload.
Multitasking is a myth: focus on 1 project at a time
Are you asking employees to juggle multiple projects at once? If so, you’re doing employees and your business a disservice.
Multitasking is not an effective way of working.
When energy and motivation wane while working on projects, let employees put it aside. Allow them to focus on something else to help restore their energy. Just don’t ask them to multi-task.
Multitasking is not an effective way of working — it’s a myth that our brains can handle multiple tasks at once. Furthermore, people who multitask are less able to focus on anything new they encounter while shifting from previous tasks. Luckily, there are some simple techniques for helping employees focus on 1 project at a time.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a way for employees to work with the time they have as opposed to working against it. It creates a sense of urgency. Ask employees to set a timer for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Rinse and repeat 4 times.
After 4 sets of 25-minute chunks, they take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. However, the Pomodoro Technique may not work for someone whose day is packed with appointments, Zoom calls, or meetings.
Don’t come down too hard on employees
Measuring productivity is tricky. Countless factors can influence how employees feel at work, and no 2 people’s peak times of day are alike.
So, if employees are not feeling motivated, that’s OK! In those times of lower motivation, encourage employees to work on projects of lower urgency or importance. But try to take advantage of the times when they feel motivated by working on higher priority projects.
If you or your employees struggle with procrastination or motivation issues during certain parts of the day, don’t come down too hard. Instead of forcing productivity during those times when it just doesn’t happen naturally, recognize them as opportunities to rest or recharge energy that can be used more effectively later in the day (or week).
Encourage workers to step away from the chair and desk
Whether working at home or at the office, workers often sit for long periods of time. This can have negative effects on health and productivity.
To stay healthy and productive, it’s important to get up and move around frequently. Encourage employees to stand up and stop sitting every hour or so by going for a quick walk or doing some stretches at their workstations.
Let your team take a break, even for a few minutes. No one can work nonstop. It’s essential to take some time away from the desk and get refocused. Here are examples of some productivity hacks:
- Taking the stairs up instead of the elevator
- Looking out the window for 5 minutes
- Going for a walk outside (preferably somewhere quiet)
- Walking around the office while talking on the phone
- Standing while working on an important project, like writing an email or report (if possible)
- Stretching in between tasks
Taking breaks every few hours can make a huge difference in workplace efficiency. Staying focused for long periods is hard as we all need a break at some point. Your team productivity will thank you later.
If you let employees recharge during the day by letting them take short breaks every hour or 2 instead of trudging through the entire day without stopping, they’ll be grateful.
If there is little time for breaks, at least let your employees step away from their workstations.
Understanding procrastination can help you beat it
Procrastination is a form of self-sabotage that can be difficult to overcome. We often procrastinate when we don’t want to do something or feel like we’re not good at it. Procrastination can also be a way to avoid doing something stressful or unpleasant.
Understanding employee tendencies and motivations (especially of remote workers) will help determine what’s holding them back from achieving your company goals or finishing projects before deadlines.
Cut down on screen time
Things outside your control affect your employees’ ability to produce at peak levels. While many factors contribute to workplace stress and distraction, one of them stands above all others: technology.
Cutting down on screen time is a simple way to reduce the number of distractions in life. By reducing employee screen time, you’re also reducing eye strain, headaches, and poor sleep — all of which are symptoms of being overstimulated by technology.
It may seem counterintuitive for employers to encourage employees to cut back on their distractions during workdays. After all, these distractions aren’t just a waste of time — they’re also what prevent boredom and falling into complacency.
But from a productivity perspective, the benefits are clear. Less mindless browsing means more focus on tasks at hand and better results overall.
Productivity is about being focused and feeling good
When your team is tired or hungry, their brains don’t work as well. So before they start working, tell them to eat. Furthermore, employees who eat healthy are more productive.
Also, ensure the space they use for working is comfortable and relaxing (not distracting). Have you overloaded your employees? If they have too much on their plate, consider delegating tasks to other employees so that they can focus on other projects.
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Find the time that works best for your employees
Creating a work schedule that caters to employees’ personal productivity peak times can be the difference between a job well done and a job barely done. By experimenting with different times of the day and days of the week, you can find the formula that works best for your team.
While 8:00 am-12:00 pm might work best for some of your employees, others may find that their peak hours are later in the day. Try to accommodate your team and make a schedule and project load that works to their strengths.
By setting work schedules for peak productivity, you can ensure that employees are working to their fullest potential. Why not increase productivity and let employees have more free time outside of work? Promote a productive and happier life both in and outside the office.