The Day Officially Starts
With the early-morning hustle over, you feel more on top of things. As the day unfolds, your body temperature and levels of the alertness-boosting hormone cortisol continue to rise. These are the magic hours: Most people over 30 are likely to be productive and sharp between 9 a.m. and noon, says Lynn Hasher, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.
Take advantage of your mental acuity with productivity “sprints.” Loehr has clients take a break every hour and a half. “Changing channels physically, emotionally, or mentally every 90 minutes pays extraordinary dividends in terms of productivity, well-being, and energy,” he says.
Cut the office chat. This is prime time for knocking out your to-do list, so don’t get stuck with Chatty Cathy at the office or PTA Pam at the bus stop. If you’re faced with an unwanted conversationalist, Robin Abrahams, an etiquette columnist for the Boston Globe, suggests saying something like “I’d much rather be talking to you than filling out those TPS reports/permission slips. Oops! Speaking of…I’d better go. I need to finish them by lunch.”
Drink more coffee. “Coffee has an unfairly deserved evil reputation,” says Karen Ansel, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “It’s very effective at boosting energy and concentration.” Just drink up before lunchtime, limiting the full-strength caffeine to two eight-ounce cups, max. Drinking later will yield diminishing energy returns: Coffee stays in your system for six hours, so that afternoon cup will make it harder for you to get to sleep later on.
Play (for a few minutes, anyway). Fun brain-teasers activate the reward system of the brain, which releases a surge of energizing neurotransmitters. The Cup O’ Joe brain-training app for the iPhone has memory games and reaction-time tests that are actually entertaining ($1, itunes.com).