This isn’t the most productive day for you. You sit down at your desk. Get up. Sit down again. Fiddle around with your chair. Open a browser window. Sign into your email. Answer a chat on Google. Answer another.
For the next several hours, you are a permanent resident of your email inbox. On several occasions, a possibly better, possibly more interesting distraction drags you away from your current one. (These distractions are rarely better, or more interesting, but they are different.) Your fingers, seemingly autonomous from your brain, scroll through your social feeds: your gurgling babies of Facebook, your logorrheic celebrities of Twitter, your enviable landscapes of Instagram, your ever-deepening vortex of Mason jars on Pinterest.
What if you did this differently? What if you resolved to be your best self today? With a combination of expert research and anecdotal evidence, we’ve partnered with Best Buy to find the best time for everything.
Welcome to your best day ever!
6 a.m.: Send Emails That Actually Get Read
According to data gathered by online marketing company HubSpot, the click-through rate on emails peaks around this time. Of course, you can’t guarantee an immediate response, but at least you’ll make yourself heard.
6:30 – 8:30 a.m.: Get Stuff Done
Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, encouraged readers of his Reddit AMA to seize the first two hours of their day. “Generally, people are most productive in the morning,” he wrote. “The two hours after becoming fully awake are likely to be the best.”
8 a.m.: Make A Highly Ethical Decision
This is a big day for you! Start it on a moral high horse. According to research published in Psychological Science, we are inclined to make better moral and ethical decisions in the morning than we do at night. Apparently, it takes a good deal of energy and restraint to avoid becoming your lying, cheating, Worst Self, and that self-control erodes with the “normal, unremarkable” choices you make throughout an average day, the journal notes. This is called the “morning morality effect,” so make all of your tough calls now.
10:30 a.m.: Grab A Cup Of Coffee
Believe it or not, the best time to have a cup of coffee is not first thing in the morning, according to Steven Miller of Neuroscience DC. Between 8 and 9 a.m., your level of cortisol -- popularly known as the “stress hormone” -- is at a high, meaning you’re already quite alert. Aim to drink your joe between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., when the cortisol concentration in your bloodstream starts to dip.
1:30 p.m.: Take A Nap
Go ahead, you’ve earned it. Your optimal naptime will depend on the time you woke up today -- a nap starting at 1:30 p.m. assumes that you’ve gotten out of bed around 6 a.m. -- you know, when you sent all of those important emails. A catnap that lasts between 10 and 20 minutes is optimal. (Check out this handy tool to guide you to your best siesta.) As far as logistics: if you’re not lucky enough to have designated nap rooms at the office, there’s always your car or a variety of other creative options.
4 p.m.: Let Sparks Fly
How about another break? Based on a small, unscientific survey from dating service Sparkology, users were 40 percent more likely to get a response to an initial message during work hours than after 5 p.m. Alex Furmansky, the company’s founder, posits that evening messages suffer from a few perception problems: (1) a Friday night message means you’re sitting, sad and alone, in front of your computer instead of socializing, (2) it may seem ill-considered, and (3) the recipient is likely not in front of a computer.
5 p.m.: Ask For A Raise
Aside from dawdling on, say, online dating sites instead of working (oops!), you’re a pretty conscientious worker, we’ll assume. You’ve put some real time and energy into this job, and you’re ready to ask your boss about a pay bump. Lynn Ellis, a career coach in Texas, told Real Simple: “The key is finding a moment when your boss is not rushed and has time to truly listen.” Of course, you’ll want to use your best judgment: if you and your boss are morning people, then you’ll want to present your case by the light of day.
6 p.m.: Get Creative
If you are indeed a morning person, it turns out that your creativity peaks in the evening -- that is, when you are more distracted and less energetic. In a 2011 study by Mareike B. Wieth and Rose T. Zacks, subjects were assigned “insight” and “analytic” problems at both optimal and non-optimal times of the day. The results indicated that insight problems, or creative pickles that require an “a-ha” moment, are best reserved for when your energy and inhibitions are somewhat lowered.
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