I was recently interviewed by London-based writer Gemma Askham about the seemingly elusive perfect work day schedule.
I enjoyed the questions that she asked and thought that you might want to know what those were – along with the answers that I gave.
1. When is the best time of day to send an email that you need a response to, and why? (Are there any studies on response rates vs times of day?) Is there a worst time? (i.e. when the recipient is straight out of a meeting, after 5pm when everyone’s thinking about going home).
Every email sending service (think Mail Chimp, iContact, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, etc.) has statistics on open rates and click through rates. But that’s for mass sendouts. There are no stats for individual response rates because they’re virtually impossible to track – unless you want “Big Brother” with a hand on your inbox. What it boils down to is: What are the email habits of the recipient?
This is why it’s so important to clarify expectations and communication styles when you first start working with someone. Does your client only check email three times per day? Does your co-worker never check email after 5 PM? Does your boss’s assistant answer within five seconds?
The best way to never fret about needing an immediate response is to think through situations as much as possible, plan for all possible contingencies, and email requests one to two days ahead of time. If there is a true emergency for which you need a response, pick up the phone and call.
2. When is the best time to brainstorm ideas to maximise your chance of being creative and energetic?
When is your best brain time? That differs for every individual. For some, it’s first thing in the morning after they wake up. For others, it’s during lunch. For others still, it’s the middle of the night.
If you need to brainstorm at a time when your brain energy isn’t optimal, consider going for a walk. Studies show that walking for as little as five minutes activates the brain’s creative centers.
3. How can you best manage social media so it’s complementary to your working day – not distracting you from it? Given that many people now need to use Social Media to boost their professional reach and brand, is it a good idea to designate set ‘social-media times’ when you post and answer comments, rather than checking your phone every 30 minutes? How should you pick the best time to do this?
Researchers at UC Irvine discovered that it can take us up to 25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. If we let our social media notifications interrupt us throughout the day, that adds up to a great deal of lost time. Productivity-wise, it is definitely better to choose specific times of day for dabbling with social media.
There are two ways to go about choosing your times:
1) What’s best for you? Will you be more efficient if you check social media for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at the end of the day? Or does it fit your schedule better to do it around lunch time? What kind of set up will allow you to spend some time completing this required activity without letting it take over your entire day?
2) Choose the time when more of your clients will be online. If your goal is to carry on live conversations, pick a block of time when you find that a large percentage of people you’re trying to reach are online. This still involves scheduling and setting a time limit because unless your full time job is social media, you can’t afford to get sucked in and spend all day talking online.