I remember a good friend of mine once remarking, “The first beer always tastes the best” and it is the thing that pops into my head every time I have one.

But the same is for your cup of coffee. It will give you a powerful pickup that gives you a boost that you can use to power through “Eating the frog”. Think of Popeye and his can of Spinach. For me, my first cup is a power up that allows me to cut through most challenging tasks like a hot knife through butter, even though a few short hours later, I might be staring at these same tasks like they were mission impossible.

So when I stumbled on this article, it really resonated with me. I would strongly recommend you read it as well

Your First Cup of Coffee Does These 5 Surprising Things for Your Brain Each and Every Day

Aligning work and energy flows

Managing your energy flow during your day is critical. You need to align your energy levels with your most powerful tasks and use perks (forgive the pun) like coffee to power-up, when you need them most. What reminded me of this article was that I took a shower after my coffee this morning. I was extremely meditative, but by doing so I squandered some precious value from my limited-time power up. But this was a good reminder to evangelize this article, at least

High

Most people are high energy in the morning. That is also the best time to Eat the frog, which means to do your most difficult task first. Add some coffee into the mix and you can power through the most challenging task and put it in your inbox, setting your day up for satisfaction and success

Morning meetings are death to productivity, which is one reason why daily SCRUM standup meetings should be 15 minutes only, not one second more. In this way they won’t eat into your most productive time.

Medium

Don’t check email when you first log in. It will distract you, taking up valuable time and energy that you will need for proactive tasks. Reactive tasks like responding to email can be done in lower energy cycles along with the bulk of your remaining tasks, after you have Eaten the frog.

Low

As you go to the end of the day, if you worked hard you will begin to tire. It becomes difficult to make decisions and even process simple tasks. This is the perfect time for those mundane chores that need to be done, but don’t take a lot of mental energy. In fact, in a lower energy state you may actually be more proficient at these types of tasks and less likely to miss things by going over them to quickly.

During my low energy cycles I love to do Quality Assurance. I would block off 15 minutes every day to review things like our website, templates etc. People thought I QA’d all day because I constantly found bugs and issues, but the majority of them were during this low energy period of my day. This demonstrates that you can maximize your results even when your input is minimal

Some other things I would do during my low energy cycle, that you could as well

  • Re-read inbound emails. I guarantee you have missed some details and perhaps even important ones
  • Engage with your company’s internal discussion forums to catch up on topics of the day. Also it is a good time to nurture your reputation on Stack Overflow, Slack, Experts-exchange, LinkedIn etc with comments, shares
  • Read one article the will help with your professional development
  • Organize your desk, office, documents, file folders etc and generally prepare yourself for tomorrow
  • Take care of work related errands, tasks etc like upgrading to a new version of a software program

Working naked

The good news is that when we are allowed to Work naked, we can freely align our work day with our natural energy flows, however they may exist for us vs being forced to adhere to a schedule that works against our natural bio-rhythms

For example, if you are a really early morning person, you can work to your peak productivity before anyone else comes in. You may instead be a night owl who does your best work after hours. Often, people find a segmented work day works well where they can step out of the office to do some regenerative activity i.e. taking a walk, going to the gym that keeps productive time aligned with peak energy but can also maintain and even boost energy levels. When you work naked, you are empowered to work when you are most productive. A frictionless, Work naked environment offers no barriers to team members disengaging during low productive states.

Captive employment

Captive employment (e.g. fixed location, fixed schedule) tends to work against allowing team members to work to their own energy cycles by herding people into meetings and other shared activities. Forcing someone to take an early morning commute can waste up to an hour or more of their most productive time. It can corral people into work cycles and timeframes that force them to work when their energy is ebbing. These same environments tend to discourage, limit and even restrict stepping away, which is a great way to stem, and even reverse, energy loss.

People in captive work situations can drink coffee too, of course. But I see it being used often/mainly to reverse low energy flows aka get through the day, make it to 5 PM etc. This approach is not something that will generally lead to great achievements at work.