The little mistake that kills your productivity

Is time slipping away? Photo courtesy of flickr user Dave Stokes

A few years ago, when I started logging my time regularly, I noticed a pattern. I'd sit down at my desk with my coffee a little past 8 a.m. I'd be raring to go. I could crank out an article without getting distracted. My inbox did not exist. I could work for a solid 90 minutes or even two hours on one project.

By 10:30? Eh. My concentration was shot. Sometimes I could get it back, but I often wouldn't get another 90-minute focused stretch the rest of the day.

I work by myself, so it's not like I was getting distracted by meetings or coworkers. I was simply most productive during one particular time of day, and after 10:30 a.m. it was over.

Knowing that about myself, you'd think that I would guard the hours of 8-10:30 a.m. like a hawk. But over the past few months, I've let a few things creep onto my calendar during that time. Indeed, this past week, I realized that on three out of five weekdays, I could no longer count on having that stretch free for focused work.

Is it any wonder I've been feeling a bit behind?

The secret to getting things done is knowing when you're most productive, and scheduling your most important tasks for that time. Likewise, the little mistake that kills your productivity is ceding your best hours to meetings, phone calls, or even personal things like dental appointments. In a distracted world, it's hard enough to focus. So why make it harder for yourself? I'm working on clearing my morning calendar. What hours do you need to clear?

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