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How to structure your work day

Running a business is a balancing act. On the one hand you’re trying to forge your own path, but there’s also pressure to adhere to certain pre-existing routines. If you’re unsure of how to structure your work day, it’s time to take a fresh look at your day.

Wake up at a similar time each day, whatever time that is for you – some people are better at early mornings than others. If you feel you get a lot done very early, before everyone else is up and about, then make this a regular part of your day, not something you only do once in a blue moon. When working out how to structure your work day, make sure it’s something sustainable, a structure that you can stick to.

If you need a caffeine hit, the best time is between 9.30am and 11am, as these are the times when your levels of cortisol (the hormone governing alterness) are at their lowest. Studies show that you’re at your most productive in the late morning, so try to schedule your toughest challenges for this time of day. Your body temperature is rising, so your concentration and memory are heightened.

The question of when to check or answer emails can be a sticking point if you’re wondering how to structure your work day. The desire to give great service means many business owners feel obliged to check messages regularly, and to respond to everything as soon as they can. In theory, this makes you look responsive and on the ball; in practice, it distracts you from whatever else you’re working on, meaning you might be losing valuable focus on the tasks which will help your business to thrive.

Many successful business owners restrict their email activity to specific points in the day, and ensure that key processes such as product development and planning meetings are left uninterrupted. Remember, successful business owners are the ones who keep their eye on the big picture.

Don’t be tempted to skip lunch and work through, in the belief that you’ll get more done. A little down time – preferably away from your desk – can work wonders, and you’ll return to work more refreshed. The afternoon energy slump can’t be avoided by soldiering on non-stop, so don’t use that excuse. In fact, many people find a lunchtime or afternoon walk works wonders in clearing their heads and making them more creative.

If you’ve ever asked yourself how to structure your work day more effectively, you’ll know first-hand how difficult it can be. If it were simple, everyone would be doing it! It takes a great deal of discipline to break bad habits – however well-intentioned their origins – and you’ll often meet resistance, whether from clients or co-workers. The rewards, however, make it worthwhile.

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