FANNING: How to make your unproductive time more productive

By Ben Fanning, contributing editor  |  What time of the day does your personal productivity naturally decrease?



According to the Daily Mail, the most unproductive time in the work day is 2:55 p.m. Interestingly, that’s also when social media usage spikes.

For me, productivity can easily fall off the proverbial cliff around 3:30 p.m.  I’ve experimented with a few strategies, and I’ve learned how to put some extra pep in my step that doesn’t involve coffee or Red Bull.  Today I’ll show you how.

Start by making a conscious choice

Everyone has unproductive time; it’s part of being human.  And every day, you can make the conscious choice to either let it go and just write off that time as unproductive (because it can feel pretty good to do that).  Or, you can consciously boost your energy and make that unproductive time, more productive.

Once you’re in a routine of giving yourself an energy pep during those unproductive times, you’ll likely not won’t want to stop.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make a slight modification to your daily routine, and you’ll become much more productive, build motivation and sail through the rest of your afternoon with a sense of satisfaction.

How to modify your unproductive time to make it more productive

Step 1: Identify when you hit that unproductive dip

When do you start feeling tired or unfocused, frustrated or overwhelmed? Or when do notice you’re drawn to check social media or randomly surf the internet. No judgment there.  Just notice.

For me, it’s 3:30 p.m. or it could be 2:55 p.m. like the study reports.  Write down that time on your calendar and go to step 2.

Step 2: Modify It…

There are three things you can do to change it up and make that time more productive.

  • Movement — Add some sort of movement like walking or exercise. I use a stand-up treadmill or you could go for a walk around the block, do some push-ups or whatever gets the blood flowing.
  • Task — Add an energizing task like soul-filling work — something you’re good at and you enjoy. For me, that could be a 1:1 coaching call, doing training, prepping for activity I’m fully invested in. I avoid doing task like Excel analysis or taxes as they don’t energize me as much.
  • People –– Schedule time with energizing people. Say you usually have a routine meeting scheduled with lots of problems and challenges at that time — not very fun. Change that meeting to a different time and pop in something that’s more positive and engaging in that slot. Maybe it’s catching up with your team to celebrate a win from that day.

You can mix up the three things so you’ve got something different each day to look forward to that will help discover higher levels of productivity during your unproductive time.


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