SURVEY SAYS: When Are You Most Productive?

August 19, 2010 ( - Yesterday we covered a survey that purported to highlight the worst time of days for office productivity – so it seemed like a good opportunity to find out YOUR most productive time. 

You may remember our survey from a couple of weeks ago about who came in first – you or your boss (see SURVEY SAYS: Who Gets In First?), and while that one didn’t inquire as to what time(s) were involved, it seemed that NewsDash readers (or at least survey respondents) were, in large part, early risers.   


Therefore, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that the most common response, by a significant margin, was “before 9 a.m.” (23.2%).   

Then again, the second-most commonly cited timeframe was the 16.2% that cited “between 10 a.m. and noon.” 

That said, a mere 5% opted for a time after 4 p.m., but that matched up well with the 4% who said “before 7 a.m.”  

In fact, when you look over the breakdown, you’ll see quite a bit of variety – though tilted toward earlier in the working day: 

11.6% – before 8 a.m. 

11.1% – between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. 

 2.0% – between noon and 2 p.m. 

 3.0% – between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. 

 1.0% – between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

Of course, the math majors among you will no doubt notice that those percentages don’t add up to 100%…so what about the rest?   


You guessed it – “other”. 


Why?  Well, the reasons were, as you might expect, varied: 

Some (most, in fact)  just didn’t like the time ranges I provided, as you’ll see in this sampling: 

7 a.m. and 11 a.m. 

Before 7am and Saturdays 

I start at 7:15.  Between 7:30 and 11:30 AM is the optimum time of day to get things done. although sometimes I get these unexpected bursts of enthusiasm around 4:30 PM that can last a couple of hours 

Between 9:00 am and 1:00pm 

Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. 

Before noon...after lunch my attention span and coherency seem to wane, but then I get a second wind around four. 

Maybe I'm weird, but I'm pretty productive most of the day. My WORST time is late in the day, which for me is after 3 PM or so. So pretty much anytime before 3 PM works pretty well. 

After lunch, so any time after 1:00 p.m.  I guess all the caffeine has had a chance to kick in by then! 

Between 9 and 11 a.m.  If I work late, I am usually really productive again after 6 p.m. (mostly because just about everyone else is gone). 

I get in the office at 6:30 am, well before the usual starting time of 8:00 am.  It gives me lots of time to get my day organized and get key projects started before the interruptions begin. 

From 7-9, I can accomplish so much  because there are no interruptions and it is quiet in the land of cubes. 

I'm an owl, not a lark.  Peak productivity times for me has always been 4 - 6 pm and 10 pm - 12 am. 

Some were driven by factors other than the hour of the day: 

Anytime my boss isn't in the office...her mindless e-mails and pointless meetings turn any day into the least productive day you've ever had. 

Whenever the boss isn't here (typically before 9:30 am)... 

Anytime most of my associates are out of the office and after hours when they go home.  I am in cubicle hell. 

Depends on the day and interests, meaning who thinks their needs are more important than mine (and are they accurate). 

And some just didn’t have an “optimal” time: 

I'm a veteran of the work-horse ethic/mentality, so what that actually means is that anytime the boss or customers have a request, big or small, I jump on it; the time of day is NOT a factor ... I'm NOT of the generation that thinks reporting to work is all they have to do ... And that is that. 

My favorites were: 

Early hours....people are chattier.  Late afternoon, very quiet, yes, sometimes I drag but less interruptions.  Best, most enjoyable and productive time?  At home, others asleep, snoring dog next to me. 

Between the hours of 'people staying out of my office' and 'no one calling me on the phone.' 

Before lunch.  After lunch, I am a zombie. 

Well, my best time would be from 7-9 a.m., before most folks are really here and settled in.  But since I'm not smart enough to get here that early, my next most productive time is between 5-7 p.m. after most folks have left.  But sadly, that results in my getting home late, eating dinner late, getting to bed late, and thus explains why I can't seem to get here early in the morning to take advantage of my preferred most productive time! 

Weekends and holidays, cause the telephone doesn't ring and the emails are minimal. 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said their most productive time was “Anytime Saturday and/or Sunday. Does that count? No wonder I'm single.”  

Thanks to EVERYONE who participated in our survey!