NBH014: Structure Your Day for Maximum Productivity

We all have roughly the same hours in a day. We all try to cram as much activity in each day. We want to be productive; we want to get things done. At the end of the day, we want to feel good about how our day went. Often we just try to get things done in a reactive manner. We're not planning; we're not intentional about when we're doing things. 

We just plow through certain tasks when we have time. That's completely understandable. But did you know there are certain times of day that are suited for certain tasks? I'm talking about the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. For those of you who don't know, I often talk about Ayurveda and my book is based on daily routines based on Ayurveda, the science of life.

It's ancient wisdom that helps us live in sync with nature for better health, increased energy, help with the aging process - all of the things that can help us live a long, healthy, vibrant life and are natural. Biorhythms dictate best how to use our energy, and the different parts of the day have qualities that can help us. This means that for lawyers we can actually bio-hack our productivity. Let me teach you the basics. Let's break the day into four chunks. They may be different for you, but think of it this way. The morning is the first one, the second one is mid-day, and the third one is afternoon. The last one is evening/night-time. Again, that's morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening or night-time. Let's start with the first one.

Morning is the best time to do detailed work or difficult physical work. But I know that most of us are doing mental work, so I would like to talk about that. Morning is the time that we are sharpest and strongest in our mind and we have the most stamina. I've found this time to be the best to do arduous tasks that require precision. It might be a difficult research task - and by difficult I mean complex - or something that requires us to really be detail-oriented and precision is important and it just takes more effort. If you do it in the morning, it will take less effort. It will go faster than if you do it other times a day.

The midday is when our digestion is strongest. It seems a little strange - why am I talking about digestion when we're talking about productivity? But digestion is really the core of our energy, our fueling ourselves, our really taking care of our health; and that has everything to do with productivity and energy. That is why lunch is the main meal in most cultures. The middle of the day is when our digestion is highest. That is when we could be eating and actually getting the most out of our food and out of that time. A shift to taking a regular lunch break will mean that your body will digest well what you're eating and fuel you for the afternoon and for your life. Whatever we eat actually becomes part of us. I talk about this a lot in the “lunch break” chapter of The New Billable Hour book. This lunch-time is so important.

It will help you. Digestion will help you have energy in the afternoons. It will help you make better choices, so you don't make poor choices in the afternoon when you're tired. It will help you eat a lighter dinner, which will help you sleep better.

Afternoon is the creative time. Creative time is best for meetings: maybe client meetings, or with your staff, phone calls, or brainstorming sessions. It can also be for writing and creating new strategies for a case you're working on, or for your business. Afternoons are really good for that: good for talking, good for collaboration. This is different from the morning. Remember morning was for very precise work that you need to focus on a lot. Afternoon is more expansive time to bring in new ideas; and it's lighter. If the morning is heavy, this is a lot lighter.

The last chunk of the day is evening and night. I've put them together because they're kind of about the same thing. Evening and night are about winding down and resting. This is the hardest in our culture. This time is for refueling, rejuvenating for the next day, especially resting up for that strenuous morning we have coming. If we are really rested, we can do a lot more in the morning. I know that many lawyers like to work at night and say that's their most productive time. This may be true for you. I honor that. I used to work a lot at night also, and then when I learned more through Ayurveda about how nature and the human body worked, I started to shift my schedule little by little. This doesn't happen overnight, but little by little. Now I get so much more out of the time I put into my work and to me that is productivity.

That's what I talk and teach about: How can we get more out from what we've put in. I pay attention to how the time of the day can help me be in flow. I noticed that if I have this loose outline of how I'm going to use my time, I definitely feel more productive and I feel like I can work less. Of course it's not always possible, but when I do pay attention to the structure that I just described for you, I'm able to be more flexible and that is gold. If I'm mostly doing this (scheduling my day, my meetings, taking my lunch break), then when I can't do it (i.e., because I have to give a talk during a lunch), I can be more flexible. I can shift because I have generally the routines in my life that keep my energy up. Then if it shifts away a little, I'll just go back. I'll let it come away from the structure, and then come back. I'm definitely more productive and I don't waste much time. That's definitely true for me and that’s why I wanted to share it for you. So try it, reach out, and let me know what you think.

Thank you to the sponsor of this podcast episode and blog post, Suarez Candler Law, located inHouston, Texas. The firm helps individuals and companies with immigration solutions. They bring families together, bring employees to companies, defend in removal proceedings, and provide representation for naturalization or citizenship issues. Suarez Candler Law can be found at http://www.suarezcandlerlaw.com/  For a free copy of “The New Billable Hour” book and other resources, visit www.newbillablehour.com.

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