Sunday, March 09, 2014

Best (and Worst) Times to Do Things at Work, Part 2

Many of you commented on last week’s post about the best and worst times of day to get things done at work. So we thought we'd further deconstruct the “ideal workday” as per Jenna McGregor’s recent article in the Washington Post.

In case you missed Part 1, we took you through the ideal morning work schedule according to the experts cited by McGregor. Today we’ll weigh in on the afternoon portion of the so-called ideal work day.

·         6 - 8 am. Send email. 

·         8 am. Make decisions about ethical dilemmas.

·         9 am. Avoid scheduling meetings.

·         1 - 2 pm. Don't make cold calls (especially on Friday).

·         2:30 or 3 pm. Schedule meetings (especially if it's Tuesday!).

·         4 pm. Do tasks that don't involve sending e-mail. 

·         4 - 6 p.m. Avoid sitting for an interview

·         6 pm to late evening. Do your creative work, if you're a morning person (yes, when you’re most likely to be tired)

1 - 2 p.m.
 Don't make cold calls (especially on Friday). McGregor cited research by James Oldroyd, "the mad scientist of cold calling," showing that unsolicited calls are worst if made between 1 and 2 p.m. and far more successful if made in the late afternoon (between 4 and 5 p.m.) or first thing in the morning (8 to 9 a.m.).

Our Take:
On the surface, we agree with Oldroyd’s time recommendations, but WHY THE HECK ARE YOU EVEN MAKING COLD CALLS? If you haven’t done your research, obtained a qualified lead or referral, or even made a legit LinkedIn connection with a prospect, then you’re wasting your time making cold calls any time of day. If you must go the cold call route then do it very early in the morning or after 5pm, when the decision maker’s “gatekeeper” has gone home for the day. 

4 p.mDon’t do tasks that don't involve sending e-mail.  According to HubSpot’s analysis of several million email messages, 4 p.m. has the lowest click-through rate of any time of day. The rationale? That’s when people hurry to get out of the office and check things off their list before heading out the door. "Late in the day is bad," HubSpot says. "People’s brains are fried, and they're trying to clear things off in a cursory way."

Our Take: WRONG! 4pm to 6pm is the “Sunday afternoon” of the workweek. This is when people are regrouping from the day and trying to wind down before going home and hopefully set up for tomorrow.

6 p.m. to late evening. Do creative work, if you're a morning person. Taylor and Francis research claims that people do their best creative thinking when they're tired. That’s right. When their tired! Researchers argue that creative thinking requires us to approach problems from a different perspective, which is actually harder to do when we're clear-headed and can only see the obvious answer.

Our take: A great idea can strike at anytime, anyplace anywhere—just ask top innovators who keep notepads or voice recorders near them when taking showers, swimming laps, mowing the lawn or jogging. Your best creative work comes when you’re in a fluid state of mind, free from the daily friction of emails, meetings, conference calls and budgeting.


We all have stuff we love to do and we all have stuff we hate to do. The main thing is we all have a heck of a lot to do. Many of you are familiar with the Four D’s: Do It, Delay It, Delegate It or Destroy It. We’ve found that to be effective for many of our clients as well as the Eisenhower Matrix: Urgent & Important; Urgent & Not Important; Important & Not Urgent and Not Important & Not Urgent.

Bottom line: If you’re engaged in your work, you’ll find the energy to get it done almost any time of day, whether at home, at the office or on the road. If you’re not engaged, or you’re not feeding off your colleague’s energy, then you’ll just keep finding excuses for NOT getting things done.
Last week’s post touched on the high intensity/frequent break “interval” approach we use here at HB. If you have an athletic background, we strongly recommend it.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Jenna McGregor, ideal time to get things done at work, Hubspot, Taylor and Francis, James Oldroyd, interval approach, work hard frequent break; Eisenhower Matrix, Four D’s


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