Focus: The Resource More Valuable Than Time
After reading a couple of books on productivity, people's sage advice, and general life experiences through trials and tribulations, I have found out a couple of things that helped me try to get more done in a day without making it feel forced. It is all centred around optimizing for the level of focus I have during the day, not time.
Focus is like battery and it drains throughout the day. No matter how much you try to milk that 1% of energy that is left, the system will begin to collapse and your body will shut you off from actually getting things done. Your ability to focus goes out the window.
I like to do my most intense tasks in the time the part of the day I have been empirically shown to be most focused. The mornings. I wake up and do the my most intense task because my mind absolutely does not want to go to sleep and is hyper-focused on getting the day started. Granted, this works best if you strictly adhere to your sleeping schedule and thereby respect your Circadian rhythm. But even with that said, many people don't "boot up" until afternoon or even evenings. I was formerly in that camp but for some reason, it all changed as I aged.
I've been experimenting with is to set a strict bedtime instead of a wake-up time. If you set it reasonably early enough, you'll always wake up before your alarm clock and get to enjoy the fruits of the extra hours in the serene quiet Zen mornings.
Be aware that everyone's focus and energy levels are different. What works for one person may not work for another, so it's important to experiment and find what works best for you.
Finally, the most important resource you have is focus, not time. No matter how much extra hours you try to shove into your schedule, it's much less important than the focus you have. In fact, it was found in a survey that the more extended one's work shift is (in medicine), the more error-prone their decision making would become. Optimize for focus, knowing that the long-term effects are worth it.
So go ahead and experiment a bit, don't give yourself too much to-do if you cannot physically or realistically do it. Focus is ultimately what will help you get things done, time is just the leg room for it. Leave a comment about how you organize your day to get things done below!