How do you maintain a good work-life balance? Do you feel you spend a healthy amount of time across the most important areas of your life? In this blog series, K2 IT Recruiter, Sorin Petrov looks at the key areas IT consultants can focus on to help improve their career and lifestyle and achieve greater satisfaction out of life. The fourth and last blog of the series, this post focuses on productivity; why it’s important to know when you are you’re most productive and how you can unleash it’s potential to maintain a good work-life balance across all areas of your life.
In Japan, sleeping on the job is considered a sign of hard work. But if you have to sleep on the job, are you really maintaining a good work-life balance?
The entire purpose of having a balanced work-life is not simply to reduce stress and increase satisfaction, but the real core fruit of it is supposed to be having a good mix of productivity, in both your personal and professional life. Being productive means being efficient, staying an extra thirty minutes at work doing nothing also does nothing, neither for you, your family or your career. At the end of the day, results are all that matter.
So, how do we stay productive then? We have all experienced those moments of work bliss when we can’t stop working on whatever we’re doing. That data table is so beautifully executed, that piece of wood has been carved in an hour instead of a day, the kitchen is clean and it only took 20 minutes to do it. Short bursts of productivity are how most of us operate, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Very few people can operate as tireless robots running on magic fuel. The key for us regular humans is managing time efficiently around our natural productivity bursts.
The first step would be to identify when you are at your most productive. Personally, I’m most productive at night, after 9 pm, when the world starts to quiet down and there are very few distractions from the side of my family and friends. Others are productive in the morning, with the busy bees around them to motivate them to work more and harder. I won’t say that I’m not productive during the day, but if I have to sit and do one thing, say, a report, presentation, or research for an extended period of time, I would prefer to do it between 9 pm and 1 am. Unfortunately, most of the time that’s not an option since my job falls within regular working hours. So, what then?
Identify the times or state of mind when you are at your most productive and work around them. Ideally, when your head is clear and you feel rested, you’re not hungry nor thirsty and you’re able to get your head into a task flow, a burst of productivity overwhelms you and everything starts flowing. That is your productive time and your schedule should work around that. I know that I’m personally most productive between 10:00 and 12:00 in the morning and between 14:00 and 17:00 in the afternoon. I found that out through observation mostly so now I make sure to schedule my hardest tasks between those times and leave the small, boring tasks for the rest of the time!
Now that you’ve identified your productive hours, you need to make the most out of them. Manage your schedule carefully around them and don’t waste these time windows. It’s as simple as that. Calendar and task management is the key to being productive at work. But it has to be tailored to the individual. Some of your worker bees might be thinking “I can’t just make up my own schedule,” and that is not what I’m suggesting that you do. I’m suggesting that you organize your daily activities around your natural productivity outbursts. Hard tasks for productive hours, boring tasks for unproductive hours. What if a task is hard AND boring? Well, that’s up to you then.
Other blogs in this series:
Work-Life Balance For IT Consultants: First set out Your Core Principles
Work-Life Balance For IT Consultants: Learn How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time
Work-Life Balance For IT Consultants: Why Continuous Learning is Important