Your usual routine has probably been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. As you work toward a new normal, time management is now left more up to you each day. It’s a good idea to create a structure for getting things done.
Fortunately, science can help you determine the best times to do certain activities, from working out to prepping for a test to sending an email. Here’s a look at the best times to tackle seven common college activities.
The best time to:
Work out: 7:00 a.m.
Studies show that exercising at 7:00 a.m. can actually shift your body clock earlier, meaning you’ll be more alert and awake when you start your day. Earlier-morning sweats can also lead to better mental health and productivity throughout the day, so you’re more likely to finish that paper early or crank out an extra study session.
Write a paper: 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Creative ability is highest during and immediately after sleep. According to research, this is when the prefrontal cortex is most active. Additionally, says Daniel Pink, author of “When,” this is when your attention span is at its peak and when you are least likely to be distracted. Meanwhile, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. is what he calls the “trough period,” or the period of lowest performance, and it’s when our minds are likely to wander.
Send an email: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Weekdays tend to be better than weekends for sending emails, and the middle of the day is the best time. Open rates peak then, which is helpful for emails to professors regarding questions about that assignment you’re working on or emails to employers about internship applications.
Take a snack break: 10:30 a.m.
Experts recommend keeping your snack habit relegated to between meals, as opposed to after your last meal of the day. So, if you typically eat breakfast at 7:00 a.m., and lunch at noon, have a snack somewhere in between. Bonus tip: Try snacking on foods with plenty of protein and fiber, which will help you feel satisfied until your next meal.
Nap: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Aim to nap for only 10 to 30 minutes, or you’re likely to feel groggy instead of refreshed. Also, take your nap before 3:00 p.m. Naps later in the afternoon can affect your nighttime sleep schedule, and that will leave you feeling more tired than rested, in the long run.
Tidy up: 4:00 p.m.
Late afternoon is the best time of day to clean your room, organize your desk, or tidy up in general. Research shows that at 4:00 p.m., hand-eye coordination peaks, and mood levels are high, making it a great time to pick up around the house and get organized.
Study: 4:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Studies show that better learning happens later in the day. This is because the analytical parts of our brains, the parts that scrutinize data and memorize facts, become more active as the day goes on.