We struggle to manage our time because we’re focusing on the wrong thing.
The future is ENERGY MANAGEMENT. ⚡️
And it begins with your brain. 🧠
How Peak Performers Schedule Their Day For Productivity
Peak performers are aware of their physiology when their energy peaks and falls, and plan their day accordingly.
For peak performers in training, this may seem ‘hard’ but when healthy habits are hardwired as habits in your mind, living according to our biology comes naturally just like brushing our teeth.
It’s up to you to create your “normal.”
But don’t discount this method yet as another “complicated thing” you need to add to my already overwhelming life! Hear me out.
I am a huge fan of “hacking” my body for peak performance and here are some things I learned over the years that I’ve successfully incorporated into my daily routine that has leveled up my productivity and focus.
These changes don’t happen right away, in fact, most of them will take time to make your “normal” but the trick is to learn and understand the fundamentals to pave the way to making a healthy lifestyle a reality.
I write a lot about building habits and healthy routines— they take time, consistency, and daily action but it’s worth the effort you put in the beginning. Start small, don’t skip steps, set your intentions, and do something small every day— just “don’t break the streak.”
Your goal is to be 1% better every day.
Be better than yesterday.
Over time, it becomes effortless as they get hardwired into your brain.
The following is a framework I borrowed from Neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman: I divide my day into 3 sections.
Remember, this is just an outline and should allow room for flexibility since you have to roll with the ebbs and flow of life. Don’t beat yourself up. if you can’t follow the same routine every day.
Remember, time is a man-made concept. You own your time.
Phase 1: 0-8 Hours Upon Waking
Your neurochemistry is primed to get the hardest work done since you are the most alert!
- Best time for detailed analytic-type work.
- Also a good time for deep work.
- Norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine are elevated during this phase meaning better focus.
- Healthy levels of cortisol in the brain and bloodstream keep you alert.
For you, it may mean scheduling work that gives you the most resistance such as going to the gym, writing that creative brief, taxes, or another chapter of your book that has been looming in your mind.
I tend to do all my creative work that requires a high cognitive load or any new habits I am trying to build that cause a lot of resistance for me such as engaging on social media and writing.
Tip 1: Maximize lighting:
- Early morning sunlight viewing especially in your eyes, where your melatonin receptors are. The blue light signals your body to stop producing melatonin and prime your body for the day.
- Try to actually be outside if possible it’s 50% more effective than looking at the light through a window that blocks photons— go for a 10-minute walk with your coffee.
- Optimize your workspace for brightness for maximum alertness. Positioning your desk beside a window — better if the window is opened! If not, you can also purchase artificial blue lights that use low energy.
- Try to work under as much overhead light as possible to facilitate the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and optimal amounts of cortisol.
Tip #2: Delaying caffeine until at least 90 minutes after waking.
- This prevents a crash later on. Your body releases adenosine to make you sleepy.
- When you wake up, your body is flooded with cortisol but you need to wait for the cortisol to “clear out” the adenosine since it’s usually not fully flushed out during sleep.
- Since caffeine is an adenosine blocker, you prevent the remaining adenosine to get flushed out so you’ll feel groggy and remain in this vicious cycle.
- *Click here for a deep dive on coffee.
Tip #3: Protein-Load
- Digestion uses a lot of energy (ever heard of “food coma”?)
Phase 2: 9-15 hours:
- Serotonin levels are elevated so you enter a more relaxed state.
- Best for brainstorming and creative work.
- Perfect time for a long break and wind down a little. Go for a walk, do a workout, do some yoga, breathwork.
- Start dimming lights, reduce blue light exposure but not too dark because you don’t want to get sleepy
For you, you may begin tasks that don’t require a lot of “limbic friction— or resistance from your brain. Things that are already easy and automated for you such as admin work or emails.
For me, I’ll have lunch and do “easier” work such as repurposing content, design, and straightforward client work such as fixing bugs. And then I’ll go for a bike ride or the gym to recharge before dinner.
Phase 3: 16-24 hours:
- Unless you are cramming or have an emergency deadline, give your body and brain a break and don’t do any hard work in this phase.
- Keep the environment very dark or dim as you prepare your body for rest.
- Wear the goofy-looking blue light blockers. Trust me, they work.
- Don’t eat or work out 3 hours before bed. Digestion uses a lot of energy.
- Keep the room cool as you. You get the best sleep when your core body temperature drops.
- Take a warm bath.
- If you have to work, keep your computer screen below your nose level as you still want to prepare your body for bed.
If you have an emergency deadline, here are some times to create maximum alertness and focus:
- Keep your room bright to increase alertness
- keep your visual focus narrow around the side of your head and around your eyes
- Hobbies you love such as cooking, going for a walk or doing activities with your kids
- Outlining tasks for the next day
- Taking a warm bath— which also lowers body temperature.
Of course, there are many factors to consider such as parents with children but try your best to incorporate some, if not all, these strategies and see if they improve your energy levels.
Remember, this is only an outline! Often people take what they read on the internet too seriously and think it’s too hard so they give up before even starting.
Life requires agility and flexibility.
Sometimes I do a second round of deep work after dinner if I want to get more things done, feeling extra creative (can’t waste it!). The most important thing is to listen to your body.
You’ll get better with your natural intuition over time.