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We all want to enhance our efficiency, but how do we do it? As a guiding principle, Donna McGeorge, author of The First 2 Hours, suggests that how we use time at the beginning of the day is key.

Carefully structuring the day ahead rather than knocking off routine tasks from the get-go can make all the difference.

“For most, our most productive time will be first thing in the morning. By afternoon, our body and brain will be ready to switch to some routine tasks,” McGeorge says.

“If you are like most, you rush through your day from one crisis to another, answering as many emails as you can in the gaps between pointless meetings.”

According to McGeorge, email has encroached on our real work and steals time away from our most productive periods. Unsurprisingly, this way of doing things is not optimal. She advises wresting back control of your morning by reading and responding to only the most important emails first thing, leaving any remaining emails until the afternoon.

“Our minds and bodies have innate cycles that can help or hinder our productivity at certain times of the day,” McGeorge explains.

“By understanding when you are most alert or when you need some down time and marrying that with the tasks you’ve got to do, you can become more productive.

“You can take yourself off autopilot and take back control of every hour of your day, doing the right work at the right time (even if you consider yourself a night owl).”

She also warns against making important decisions at about 3pm, because this is when cognitive alertness is impaired.

The simple answer to working productively, McGeorge suggests, is to spend our time consciously. This helps avoid the trap of doing things by default, instead of using what time we do have wisely.

Donna McGeorge, Author Donna McGeorge, Author

Our minds and bodies have innate cycles that can help or hinder our productivity at certain times of the day.