"It's called At Your Best, by Carey Nieuwhof." The speaker went on to explain the central premise. There's green time - when we're on fire. Red time, when we're definitively not, and yellow time, somewhere in the middle. What time is what colour varies from person to person, but the key is to understand your own rhythm and; wait for it, schedule the important stuff for your green time.
I'm pretty sure I knew this. I can write in the morning, but not in the afternoon. However, hearing it framed so simply, did prompt me to examine my schedule.
It made for grim reading.
Let me set the scene.
My alarm is set for 0600, and I'm usually up a little before.
I have coffee, check through my feeds and wait for sunrise. Mrs L will leave for work and I'll take the dogs for a walk. I'll come home, feed the hounds, have breakfast, clean up and come down to the office. Say for eight, eight thirty. I'll get into it, write my journal, plan the day, check my to-dos and get a podcast playing. Some days, I have Zooms / Teams / Calls scheduled from 1030. I work through to lunch, then back to the desk until Margaret gets home around three. Once we've caught up, I might return to the office until six, seven.
My green time is early. I wake like a puppy. Energised and excited for the new day. Say 0700-1200. Once I stop for lunch, it's instant red. I want to eat, and afterwards, I'm in graveyard mode. Energy begins to return late afternoon, so to round out the model - that's yellow time.
See the problem?
I use my most productive time to walk the dogs, write my journal, plan my day, attend some meetings and make some calls. Around those things, I squeeze in a bit of "deep work", wherever I can. Afternoons, my red time, I flog myself to get more work done.
I'm fortunate, in that to a large extent, I can control my own schedule. The dogs and I have had a discussion, and agreed that now the heat has abated we can walk in the afternoon. Boom. 1 green hour rescued at the cost of 1 red hour. Likewise with journaling and planning - which I've moved to the afternoon too. Those two changes alone have made a huge difference. I've even moved my shower to the afternoon.
Some commitments have dependencies. I have four fixed "group" corporate meetings a week - Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 1030 and Friday again at 1930. These aren't going to move - and even though the meetings themselves are only 30 minutes, those morning ones are real flow-breakers. Me being me, I'm going to bin the Tuesday and Friday morning ones, using the tried and tested method of simply stating that they don't work well for me, and seeing if anybody wants to discuss. I'll preserve the Monday morning team catchup and the Friday evening town hall. I have one other fixed meeting on a Thursday at 1330, which is nicely placed in red time where it belongs. I'll effectively rescue Tuesday and Friday green time - with or without a corporate punch-up.
Importantly, I recognise the need to defend my green time, when people are looking for meetings and/or calls. This will make a huge difference to me. I wonder how the rest of the world will manage it?
There does seem growing acceptance that individuals work differently, and in many ways, the pandemic has allowed people to lean into that. I'm fascinated to see how business will adapt to these new realities as stay at home orders expire.