The best time of day to do everything at work, according to science

Best Times to Day Trade the Stock Market

The best times to day trade the stock market may be the first two hours of the day. In the U.S., this is from the time the market opens at 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST. Another good time to day trade may be the last hour of the day. In the U.S., that is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

Take the time to understand the hours of the stock market you plan to trade on so you can be sure you’re trading during the most optimal times.

The Best Time To Brainstorm

Ironically, research has found that people are at their least creative when it’s demanded the most: at the heart of the workday, between 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Breus suggests leaning into “moments of groggy greatness” when we’re slightly tired and easily distracted. During these times, right and left brain communicate, which can trigger new and novel connections — and spark innovative ideas.

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Practice After Dinner

This is a favorite practice time for casual learners. It is a fairly reliable time, and it comes at a time when the day’s duties are often more or less finished.

If you only eat dinner at home, this may be for you. However, this routine can be affected negatively by:

  • A heavy meal (or any meal, if you tend to feel sluggish after dinner)
  • Alternate dinner plans
  • Other lingering obligations that remain after dinner time

Evening Exercise

You may be able to schedule your exercise sessions for the evening hours more easily than at other times of the day. There are benefits and drawbacks to evening exercise to consider.

Benefits of Evening Exercise

An evening workout can be just the thing you need to destress after a hard workday. And there are other benefits.

Evening exercise can help curb nighttime snacking by diverting your energy and boredom to movement instead. As well, exercise can blunt appetite for a time, which may let any food cravings or desire to snack pass. Of course, if you are hungry, you may want to eat something, especially if you perform intense exercise.

Post-dinner evening exercise can be an excellent time to connect with family with healthy activity. Building a family habit of a post-dinner walk can encourage everyone to add some movement to their day. What's more, evening exercise could help everyone get better sleep.

Drawbacks of Evening Exercise

At dark times of the year, it may not be as safe to walk outside. If you choose this time to walk, be sure to wear reflective gear when walking outdoors.

A full day's worth of new crises and distractions can keep you from getting a consistent workout. If you discover sleeping problems, you need to schedule your workout earlier or simply walk at a low-moderate intensity.

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Study?

There is no one “best” time of day to study. We each have our most productive time of the day, when we have the most energy. Some people are morning people, who wake up with lots of energy. Others are night owls, and have more energy in the evening hours.

Just like each student has a unique learning style, different students may learn better at different times of the day. For some students, focusing on schoolwork is easier during the morning hours of the day, while others may find that studying at night works better for them.

Five Guidelines for Discovering Your Best Time of Day

1. Determine your optimal part of the day to work

The first step in discovering your best time is to do a careful self-analysis. In this step, your goal is not to set a strict schedule, but to find the broadest part of the day that you are going to be more productive. Here are two questions to guide you to this discovery.

  • Question 1:  When during the day do I have the greatest amount of energy and concentration? When do you feel the most alive, energized, creative, optimistic, and enthusiastic? For me, this is the morning. For my wife, it’s the evening. That’s why our work schedules blend, allowing us to share childcare and household duties while still maintaining full time work schedules. Discover when you’re at your peak — morning, afternoon, evening, etc. It could be that you’re at peak efficiency at more than one time, say the early morning and the late afternoon. That’s fine, too.

Tip: Most of us are not wired to have strong periods of productivity following a big meal. There is, however, a correlation between exercise and concentration. Research suggests that our concentration and mental acumen are sharpened following at least thirty minutes of vigorous exercise.

  • Question 2:  When do I have the fewest interruptions and distractions? Part of productivity is being able to shut out the distractions that cripple concentration. Now that you have a general part of the day when you have the highest amount of energetic output, determine when the major distractions are. If you have an unavoidable distraction right in your productive zone, you will need to break up your productive zone to make way for this built-in interruption. Let’s say you pick the kids up from school from 3-4 every day. However, your most productive time is the afternoon. If this is the case, you can isolate two productive zones from 1-3pm, and perhaps from 4-5:30pm. I’ll discuss managing interruptions in detail below.

Tip: Interruptions and distractions fall into two categories, 1) planned and 2) unplanned. You can set up your schedule around planned distractions. When it comes to unplanned distractions, you should determine the time of day when unplanned distractions are least likely to occur. For me, unplanned distractions are least likely to happen very early in the morning when my kids are sleeping.

2. Isolate three 90-minute periods for concentrated work

Now that you’ve determined the phases of your highest energy, it’s time to carve out several 90-minute periods. These 90-minute sessions are your productive bursts.

  • Why 90 minutes? Work cycle research has shown that most people work best in 90-minute cycles followed by a reprieve. Nathan Kleitman, a sleep scientist during the mid 1900s discovered the 90-minute pattern in sleep and energy expenditure. Energy/productivity guru Schwartz recommends that workers “build at least one period of uninterrupted focus each day for 60 to 90 minutes and see how much more you get done.” This principle is built upon our body’s ultradian rhythms, and it’s futile to fight against them even with artificial stimulants such as caffeine and sugary intake. As Drake Bauer wrote for the Fast Company, “The 90-minute cycle works.”
  • Why three periods? Three times 90 minutes is 270 minutes — four and half hours. This may not seem like a ton of time to do your work, but if you’re in a productive zone, you will accomplish more work than you would in an 8-hour marathon of ennui and fatigue. Besides, most of us will not be able to find more than five hours in any given day where we can be at maximum productivity. When we factor in life, sleep, interruptions, and ordinary scheduling constraints, it’s tough to find more than three cycles in any given 24-hour period. Finding three cycles allows you to be more flexible with your productive zones, and work around the other important things in your life.
  • What happens in between each cycle? That’s up to you and your unique situation. What you should not do, however, is work — or at least work like you’ve been working for the past 90 minutes. You should take a break — a good, solid, get-up-and-move-around break. I have two 90-minute cycles in the morning, followed by a three and half to four hour break. After that, I finish out my workday in the late afternoon with a final 90-minute cycle.

3. Do the right work at the right time

Not all work is equal. Different types of work require different levels of energetic output. Some work may be completely draining mentally. Other types of work might actually be energizing and exciting. You want to do the most demanding tasks during your time of greatest energy, and distribute less demanding tasks across your times of waning mental strength. Here are some examples.

I’m going to create the business proposal first thing in the morning since it requires a lot of thought. Then, I’ll make time for the mindless meetings in the afternoon.

During my most productive time, I’m going to write a ton of code. At the end of the day, I’ll handle all the emails from clients.

It may seem counterintuitive to do your hardest and most challenging tasks first. Won’t that leave you wasted for the rest of the day? Not exactly. As Brian Tracy explains in Eat that Frog, getting monumental tasks completed in the early part of the day is not enervating, but energizing. The sense of completion and success signals psychological reward centers in our brain that fuel further productive work. Rather than drain us, completing big tasks has the power to motivate us.

4. Tolerate strategic interruptions

You have a life, and you need to factor that into your productive zone discovery. There are kids to care for, meetings to attend, meals to eat, and maybe naps to take. How do interruptions factor into your best time of day to work? As explained above, we work best in 90-minute cycles. Any repetitive work that extends beyond that time will begin to diminish in quality. This built-in cycle of productivity allows you to embrace your interruptions at the right time.

My greatest and most enjoyable interruption happens at lunch time. I come home to my family, enjoy a meal, play with the kids, and just chill for a few hours. This is an unorthodoxy for those who swear by the nine-to-five rule, but since such unorthodoxy allows insane levels of productivity, it’s okay. When I return from my three-hour hiatus, I’m energized, creative, and chomping at the bit for another 90-minute zone to finish out my day

When you look at your day, find those times where the distractions are the lowest and your energy is the highest. Then look at your interruptions. Enjoy them. Use those interruptions to enhance your productivity, not hamper it.

5. Use creativity to your advantage

There is one universal limitation we all work with — the twenty-four hour day. Within these allotted hours, we must find our most productive work times. If you discover that the traditional nine-to-five is your productive zone, so be it. However, there are many hours beyond this conventional timeframe that might just be your most productive. Confront your limitations, then discover your best time.

To do that, you might just have to think outside the box.

We all face other limitations that require creative solutions. When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in a South African prison, he wrote his memoirs during the night and slept during the day. He was enormously productive in this secret project, completing a massive amount of writing during a very short amount of time. During the eight years of Eisenhower’s presidency, he started work at 6am and worked until 3 or 4pm. These hours enabled him to get more done than most people, and still golf more frequently than any other American president in history. Some uberproductive people sleep in, goof off half the day, and step into their productive stride around 8pm. Then, from 8pm to 3 or 4am they hit their stride and churn out enormous amounts of work.

What works best for you? The key is creativity. Look at the blank slate of 24 hours, factor in your challenges, and find the time that works best.

Find The Time Of Day That Works Best For Your Child

Remember, your child can use a combination of study techniques, including what time of day he or she schedules study sessions! Once you know what works best, your child can start studying more effectively.

For more study tips, check out these resources: 10 Tips To Reduce Homework Stress How To Study Effectively: 12 Secrets To Success 11 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Memory Power

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