Each person, group and organization develops an operating rhythm, but do you take time to notice the rhythm and decide how to maximize that rhythm? Let’s start with a brief definition of what I mean by operating rhythm: simply put, it is the way we get things done around here. It is the patterns of our work: busy vs. slow, high stress times, or even best times of day to get your own work done.
I work with an organization that supports a lot of school districts and the school’s budget cycle is July 1 - June 30. Thus, May and June are a scramble to get all the contracts into the final budget for the school districts. August is crazy as well as it is time to train all teachers on the software that has just been bought. As you interact with this organization, you learn that these months are always a bit hectic, team members can lose perspective for a moment and momentum for some projects gets lost. After observing this for a couple of years, the Senior Management team started to understand their own rhythm and how they were contributing to the feeling in the organization. The team now has regular updates, pizza parties and celebrations during this time period. They also encourage days off right after the busiest season and plan fun events for the team. The stress is still there, but the perspective and framing of the work is much better now.
What about you? What are your busy seasons? What are the best times of the day for you to do your work? I have learned that I am a morning person and so I do my best work in the morning while the late afternoon can be a fog for me. I used to run first thing in the morning, but I found that, while it was great for training as my energy was high, I was missing out on my best mental clarity time. I now do my run most days around 4:00 or 4:30 to get a second shot of energy. This allows me to release the stress of the day. I then wrap up a couple of follow-up items, prep for the next day and have the energy to connect with my family. In the morning, I line up my facilitation and coaching sessions to match the peak of my mental and physical energy.
I would also challenge you to think about your week and year to maximize your rhythm. I work with some clients who love Monday morning meetings to kick off their week and make sure their team is ready for an awesome week. I work with other leaders who avoid Monday meetings so they can plan first thing on Monday to launch a great week. Either can be right, but it is about being intentional. Another client knows that their most productive time of the year is January - May and September - early December. This leader works extremely hard during both stretches and travels a lot during these months. However, he takes off almost all of the summer because his clients do not really need a lot of his attention in the summer months. He does some periodic check-ins, but also spends his time relaxing and enjoying his time away from the office. Now, I know his schedule will not work for all of you, but I would encourage you to start noticing your own rhythm and see if there are ways to proactively get more out of your day.
When are you most productive? When are you least productive? What part of the week are you most creative? What steps can you take to set up your schedule to maximize your productivity?