June 15, 2022
This is chapter five from Find Your Focus, our upcoming free book on mastering ultimate concentration in 10 days.
Prioritizing is an art that could fill an entire book on its own. But when it comes to improving focus, there’s one crucial factor in setting priorities that most people are unaware of: your energy.
Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day, and the ups and downs are different for each person. Some of us are night owls, others early birds. There are those with kick-start engines who are ready to go when they jump out of bed. Others run on diesel. They take time to get going but never stop.
Which one are you?
It doesn’t actually matter. What matters is to know yourself. Starting your day in your inbox is a colossal waste of your energy if you’re an early bird creative director. You might be doing something “productive” by answering emails, but what’s more important is the opportunity cost of what you’re not doing: using your peak-energy moment for a more valuable activity.
This insight is key to modern-day productivity. It’s easy to fill up your days with things that seem “productive.” But are you working on the activities that matter? And are you taking advantage of those moments when you’re at your best?
To return to the example of the creative director: she might have answered 50 emails but didn’t come up with the $1 million campaign idea that her peak hours could have sparked. That is the opportunity cost of wasting your high-energy moments.
At the same time, most of us tend to slog through our low-energy moments. Even when a tiny task feels like moving a mountain, we stay at it, glued to our screens as if our lives depend on it. Instead, we should learn to recognize these moments and make a change.
Ideally, you would take a break and go for a walk (more on this in chapter seven) or change your work environment (more on this in chapter six). But if those are not realistic options, even something small like paying attention to your breathing for a minute can get you through a downswing.
Instead of surrendering to your to-do list, planning by the hour of the clock, or worse, following whatever emergency comes into your path, use the day’s energy peaks and valleys. Discover them, then learn to work with them instead of against them.
Every time you start on a new task, take a moment to check whether it suits your current energy level. Ask yourself the following two questions:
Once you’ve answered these questions, either go ahead with the task or switch to a more appropriate one.
👆️ Topics in today’s video: energy peaks and valleys, napping, coffee, and walking.
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