If you’re like most people, it’s highly likely that your afternoons are not as productive as your mornings. There’s plenty of evidence that shows afternoons are indeed the most unproductive part of the day.
It’s easier for us to be productive in the mornings — our mind is clear, our bodies are rested, and we have more willpower and energy reserves to get important work done. However, as the day progresses, our motivation wanes and our willpower declines. If we’re not careful, this lack of energy and resolve can easily make us prone to distractions, both digital and that of the real world, fatigued and fall prey to the infamous “afternoon slump.”
One useful strategy to overcome this is to break up difficult and challenging work tasks into easy and manageable chunks.
According to Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, the best way to change your behavior is to make the new, positive change that you’re aiming for easier. And the simplest way to make something easier is to reduce the amount of time you give to it. For instance, going to the gym for one hour every day right from the get go is a challenging proposition whereas doing push ups for one minute is much less intimidating.
The same principle applies in our professional lives as well. Whenever Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting, feels overwhelmed by a huge project or experiences low energy moments, he reduces the intensity of the task he’s required to perform. He simply sets his iPhone timer for five minutes and commits to focusing for that period of time on that particular task. That’s it! Scudamore says, “What ends up happening is I build up momentum and want to keep going after the timer goes off.”
So, whenever you hit a low point in the afternoon and find performing tasks tied to your big goals daunting, just focus on starting small. Action will fuel your inspiration and soon you’ll find yourself fully engaged in the task at hand enhancing your productive output for the day.
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If you enjoyed these insights, I’d encourage you to read my book Daily Productivity (The Daily Learner, Book 5). The condensed timeless knowledge in these meditations will assist you in navigating through the complexities that come with working in the modern world.
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