The Best Times of Day to Get Things Done

Man at desk

Man working | iStock

Sometimes it’s hard to get the motivation needed to get through the work day. If you find yourself dragging yourself through most of the day’s tasks, you may need to tune-up your work schedule. Timing is key when it comes being your most productive. By paying attention to the times of day you complete certain tasks, you’ll be able to get more done in less time. Here are some of the best times of day to complete certain items on your to-do list.

Early morning or evening

Man working on laptop

Man at work | iStock

Send an email

If you’re hoping someone will both open and respond to your email, it’s best to send your message either in the wee hours of the morning or in the evening. Research conducted by Yesware found that sending an email during off-peak hours will increase your chances of a reply. You’ll get an even higher rate of response if you send your message over the weekend when people have a bit more down time and there’s less competition with other inbox messages.

Make a cold call

If your job requires you to make cold calls, you’ll want to make sure you’re calling at the right time. An ill-timed phone call could result in a very cranky client on the other end. Social media expert Linda Coles mentioned a study conducted by the Kellogg School of Management which found that the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. are the sweet spots for cold calling. The study also revealed that lunchtime between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. is the worst time to call. Coles said this is likely because your decision makers are attending meetings or they are eating and don’t want to be disturbed.

The 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. slot probably works because it’s before ‘normal work hours’ (if they still exist) and so your decision maker’s gate keeper may not be at their desk yet, or simply that your decision maker’s day may officially start at 9:00 a.m. with rounds of meetings, hence why they are at their desk a little earlier to get ahead of the day. With the 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. slot, there are not usually as many meetings scheduled for this time of the day compared to the rest of the day and so your decision maker again may be at their desk. Many meetings are scheduled over the lunch period, and lunch itself takes place eliminating the lunch period as a good time at all.


Smiling man

Happy worker | iStock

Conduct a meeting

When it comes to conducting an effective meeting, the day of the week matters just as much as time of day. Productivity expert Andrew Jansen says it’s best to avoid Monday and Friday mornings. Many employees take Monday and Friday off to extend the weekend, so you’ll be missing key workers. Early morning meetings are also not so great because most workers are still sleepy and may not be as responsive. The best time to conduct your meeting would be mid-morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. “Many businesses have found that a mid-morning meeting is very effective as employees have had time to settle in, are more alert, and have not dealt with numerous tasks yet. Enthusiasm will remain throughout the day. When is Good offers a free service in which an organizer can send meeting invites out and receivers can respond with their availability. This may help you determine a time that would least interfere with your employees’ work day,” said Jansen.

Make a decision

Mid-mornings are also a good time for decision making. After you’ve (hopefully) had a good night’s sleep and eaten a hearty breakfast, you’ll be sharp and ready to tackle the day ahead of you. Avoid making major decisions late in the afternoon or at night when you’re tired. Psychologist Marcia Reynolds said making decisions too late in the day could lead to poor decisions because your judgment isn’t as sharp as the day gets later. “I read a short piece by Nessa Bryce in the March issue of Scientific American Mind. She cited a series of studies done at Harvard University and the University of Utah that found that our moral compass is much more accurate in the morning when we have more energy than later in the day,” said Reynolds.

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