CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- So, you're looking at that "to do" list and wondering how -- and when -- you'll ever get it done.
Well, you're not alone. My informal survey of magazine covers at newsstands shows that articles on organization and energy are quickly overtaking those on losing 10 pounds and getting washboard abs.
In our world of 24/7 communications, things move quickly. So, there can be more pressure on getting items crossed off our lists.
We all have our own personal energy cycles. Some of us are morning people, and some of us are night owls. When we have flexibility on the timing of getting things done, we can play to those strengths. Often, though, time frames are dictated for us.
Author Kathy Benjamin has researched the efficiencies and effectiveness of performing certain tasks during specific time periods. Here are a few tips:
7 a.m.: Make a baby: If you want kids, your best bet is to try when you wake up. Men's sperm counts are significantly higher in the early morning.
8:30 a.m.: Decide something: Researchers have found that we make our best decisions right after we wake up. Later, we suffer from "decision fatigue" and make the quicker or easier decision. You may need to adjust this time frame according to your own habits of rising.
9:30 a.m.: Update your blog: Most Web surfers check their favorite sites before 10 a.m. If you want to maximize your blog's traffic, be sure to post soon after breakfast.
10 a.m.: Take an aspirin: Mornings, specifically Monday mornings, are the most common time for both heart attacks and migraines. A preemptive aspirin could ward off pain or even save your life.
On the flipside, I learned from a recent Mayo Clinic report that an aspirin taken for these reasons ought to be taken at night -- before bedtime -- so that it's in your system to provide the optimum results as those morning hours roll around. Go figure.
11 a.m.: Send an email: An analysis of more than 200 million emails found that folks are most likely to read their mail shortly before their lunch break. Benjamin recommends sending one at 11 a.m. to be at the top of the pile. I have a related rule of thumb that pertains to phone calls. If I need to make a call and I have some flexibility on the timing, I'll generally stay away from the time frame between 11:30 a.m. and noon. Folks are often in a hurry to get to a lunch meeting -- or they're hungry and preoccupied (translation: cranky).