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I recently read an article about how we can plan our business day to better optimize your time. I must admit having read this; it’s difficult to break some habits that I’ve developed over the years. I’m willing to try since research shows what is best to do and not do at various hours of the day. I’d like your opinion.

6-8 am: Send emails. I’m typically sleeping unless I’m at the ANI or board meeting. There is much debate if this is best time to send emails. Research by marketing software company HubSpot indicates  the highest read rate from marketing email is on those sent around 6 am or a little later. It’s best to know what time the person reading your email starts their day and cleans out their inbox so you can send your email after that. Now people seem to wake up and reach for their smart phone even before their morning Joe! Cleaning out an inbox early means once they sit down at their desk; this job is already done.  

8 am: Making decisions about ethical dilemmas. Wow! I’m probably just getting out of bed and I’d hate to start my day making huge decisions before coffee. But this is the hour of the day that people have what is called the “morning morality effect” from a University of Utah study. People are more likely to cheat or lie to earn more money in the afternoon. Self-control is restored after a good night’s sleep.

9 am: Avoid scheduling meetings. Trying to find a convenient time when everyone can attend a meeting is always a challenge. There seems to be rush of emails when you are trying to schedule a meeting or conference call with various conflicts and especially if the call is at 9 am. Any time before 10am is considered the time the fewest people are available.

1-2 pm: Is there a good time for cold calling? Research shows the worst time of day to make an unsolicited call is between 1 and 2 pm. Later in the afternoon is much better, between 4 and 5 pm or first thing in the morning between 8-9 am. Mondays and Fridays are the worst days. I amazed at how many cold calls come in after 5 pm, guess those salespeople want to catch the top dogs still at the office.

2:30 or 3 pm: Schedule meetings. When is the best time to schedule a meeting? Research says Tuesday at 2:30 is the best day and time of the week. This still leaves you time to make an end of the week deadline or not have a new deadline carrying over from last week.

4 pm: Do tasks that don’t involve sending emails. Hub spot says that late afternoon is the worst time to get people to act on an email and 4 pm has the lowest click-through rate of any time of the day. People are in a hurry to get out of the office and their brains are fried. They are less likely to give this email as much consideration as emails received earlier in the day.

4-6 pm: Looking for a new job or hiring an employee. Avoid interviewing late in the day and this could apply to any situation when decisions need to be made. Push for an early morning appoint if at all possible.

6 pm on: Do creative work if you are a morning person. I am interested in your thoughts on this. Research shows that people do their best creative thinking when they are tired. People who feel sharp in the morning did a better job solving problems late at night that required original thinking. For night owls it is the reverse. A recent article in the Washington Post said that creative thinking requires us to approach problems from a different perspective, which is harder to do when we are clear- headed and can only see the obvious. If we need to think creatively, it’s easier when our brains are a little distracted and can short circuit the first answers that come to mind.

Research in this study didn’t say the best time to eat lunch or take a coffee break. Guess that’s something to ponder too!  

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