Time Management According to Strengths

pink clockTime management is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve struggled with it, mostly because it just seemed so easy to everyone else to just go go go all day long.

I’d listen, envious, while people talk about how they would get up an hour or two earlier in the morning to exercise, or get some work done, or just simply enjoy a leisurely breakfast. I’ve often harboured fantasies about waking up with the sun, pulling on my running shoes, and setting off into the misty morning for a few quick miles before work.

Unfortunately, when the alarm clock jolted me roughly from sleep, I would, consistently, hit the snooze button repeatedly until I’d snoozed away all chance of extra early morning productivity. I simply can’t bring myself to leave my cozy, comfy, warm bed in the morning. Nothing could rouse me from my slumber.

I spent a long time lamenting this feature of my behavior, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do what came to other people so naturally.

Finally, I’ve realized and accepted that at this point in my life, I’m just not a morning person.

I’m not productive in the morning, so I’m better off spending that time sleeping peacefully, instead of hitting the snooze button every ten minutes for an hour. These days, I spend my nights being productive. I actually spend about an hour and a half getting ready for bed, doing all of the things I would’ve forgone in favour of “ten more minutes”.

I make my lunch, I make my breakfast (to take to work with me), I pack my workout bag so I can run on my lunch break, I lay out my clothing for the next day. Anything that allows me to sleep in a little later.

It’s working! Since I’m sleeping in later, I can stay up later. I spend a good 45 minutes of that hour and half before bed catching up on blog admin, scheduling my week ahead, and jotting down any ideas, thoughts, or to do’s in Evernote. This decompressing process I’ve started going through has helped me sleep so much better, since I have fewer thoughts running around in my mind when I finally lay my head down, it’s all written down.

Some people might think I’m lazy, some people might think “yeah, getting up sucks, deal with it.” Personally, I think I’m just finally in tune with my most productive times of day, instead of trying to force my ideal of when I should be productive. I’m most productive in the evening, so now I’m giving myself a chance to benefit from that.

Using Productivity Peaks to Your Advantage

By using your productivity peaks and valleys to your advantage, you can be so much more productive in a given day. For example, I generally run out of steam at work at around 3pm. I could have laser focus on a project all day, but once 3pm rolls around, things just sort of fall apart. I have trouble focusing, and I feel the need to get up and walk around or change tasks.

So, since I’m not being productive anyway, I take this opportunity to take my lunch hour and go for a quick run.

Exercising does the trick at getting me out of my funk, and I usually have enough energy left over to finish up the day’s work and prepare for the next day before heading home. Low points in energy levels, will power, or productivity don’t have to be loses. They can be turned into benefits by scheduling in relaxing activities, or, in my case, exercise.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the productivity cycle of a day. For me, I’m bad in early in the morning, good throughout the day, another bad spell at 3pm, and then pretty good in the evening. By scheduling my day around these strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to work with my natural habits, instead of against them.

When are your productivity peaks and valleys?


  1. says

    "I make my lunch, I make my breakfast (to take to work with me), I pack my workout bag so I can run on my lunch break, I lay out my clothing for the next day. Anything that allows me to sleep in a little later." Ditto. You pretty much described my routine as well. I'm not a morning person but still get up really early since I start work at 7. I'm not as productive in the morning but I do what I can to shift things to the night before.
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  2. says

    I am the same. I gave up on trying to get up early to get things done becasue it just doesn't happen. I take a couple hours to myself at night after my kids go to bed and that is when I get the most done. No point in trying to force yourself to be productive in the morning when you no that it isn't going to work!
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  3. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    I am not really a morning person myself either, but the reality of having three little ones is that the quietest time in the house is at the butt crack of dawn. It's taken me a bit of getting use to, but it allows me to be more productive.

  4. Budget & the Beach says

    I'm a morning person, but definitely not a 5am kind of morning person. Its funny because when I worked full time, I had a hard time getting out of bed even at 7:30. I would hit snooze too. But as a freelancer and not having to be anywhere necessarily, I naturally wake up early. I can't work late though. I get really cranky. I need total downtime before bed.
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  5. Heather @ The Life Unexpected says

    I am SO not a morning person either! They have actually proved that certain people have a different hormone fluctuation patten than others, so they have different peak efficiency times. Mine hits about 3pm but I’m good to go from 10am-9pm for the most part :) great post!
    Heather @ The Life Unexpected recently posted..Really America?My Profile

  6. says

    My time management skills leave a lot to be desired. If I worked on them a little I know I could be a lot more productive of a person. I find myself trying to do multiple tasks at one time. While multi-tasking is good it can also be a problem.

  7. Michael says

    I completely agree with this. I'm a morning person…when I don't have work. I'm up between 7:30 and 8 on the weekends and that's my time to clean, blog, eat breakfast, and get my day lined up. I prefer to be up and have everything done as early as I can so if I want to be lazy for the rest of the day, I can.

    As for workdays, I'm the worst. I wait until the 11th hour to get up and get ready. So I do the same and get my clothes laid out and lunch packed the night before. It makes a huge difference.

  8. says

    I am not a morning person, but I do my best to keep the energy up early or else I will be stuck in traffic and late. I get out and walk at least 3 times a day to refresh myself and keep my focus. Two small walks for 5-10 minutes and a longer one about 20 minutes during lunch.
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  9. Leslie says

    I am an early morning & late night person. Afternoon for sure is my worst time. I try to do the most tedious/time-consuming tasks first thing in the morning at work and try to feed off the momentum of that. But it is so difficult for me to get the motivation back right after breaking for lunch. But around 4p, I can focus again…
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  10. says

    I am a morning person, but I find I am most productive working only 50 minutes an hour. When I break my rule and sit there longer without a break I find I waste a lot of time.

  11. wmwo says

    100% night owl for me. If I'm left to my own devices I wake up naturally between 10am and 11am, and fall asleep between 1am and 2am. I know a lot of people think that's just for teenagers who aren't used to real life yet, but I haven't been a teenager for about a decade, and I've done multiple varieties of shift work that have me sleeping and waking up all over the clock. When I'm left alone to my own devices, that's when my body wants to sleep. If I've had enough sleep I don't find I really have a dip in the afternoon. Either that or the dip is when I feel the need to eat lunch.
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  12. says

    I really like being awake in the early morning, but I HATE getting up!

    I do find that I am most productive at work during the morning though (helped in part by the free coffee!), so I plan my day around it. I do mentally straining tasks in the morning and save the repetitive less demanding tasks for the afternoon.
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  13. Shannon-ReadyForZero says

    I couldn't agree more – there's no reason to force yourself into a certain schedule if you've found that something else works better in your life. The funny thing is, those productivity peaks can even change! Mine used to be from 8-10pm and 6-8am. But now that I work different hours and moved to another city, I'm finding that's not the case anymore. I've been experimenting for the past few weeks to see what works best for me now – getting up earlier to accomplish errands and workouts or doing them at night. I think it's important to stay in tune with our body and the changes that happen based on your schedule.
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  14. LivingDFRocks! says

    I'm not very functional/approachable first thing in the morning lol! I get my best work done starting mid-morning and can power through until late in the evening. I still tend to start my day around 8 a.m. as I can get a lot of uninterrupted work done before the majority of my contacts start their day.
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  15. says

    I think it is also interesting to consider what spaces you are in and which ones are better for different types of productivity (different types of tasks and work). Nice post!


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