Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has built a hugely successful e-commerce empire. But even he can't avoid an afternoon slump.
That's why at Amazon, Bezos schedules mentally strenuous meetings for 10 a.m. "I like to do my high IQ meetings before lunch," the billionaire revealed in a September interview at the Economic Club of Washington D.C. "Because by 5 p.m.., I'm like, 'I can't think about that today. Let's try this again tomorrow.'"
Science supports Bezos' logic. Research shows that it can be harder to exercise good judgement, think clearly and make smart decisions later in the afternoon. Tackling your most challenging projects earlier in the day, however, can help you get the most bang for your mental buck.
Still, scheduling is just one part of the equation. Here are three Bezos-approved strategies you can use to make your day as productive as possible:
1. Get a good night's rest
Most sleep experts say that between six to eight hours of shut-eye is ideal. Bezos agrees.
The billionaire prioritizes getting eight hours of sleep each night, unless he's traveling in a different time zone. "Sometimes it's impossible," Bezos admits, "but I'm focused on it."
Adequate sleep can directly impact one's job performance, especially for those in decision-making roles. "I think better, I have more energy, my mood is better," Bezos told attendees at the Economic Club, noting that his job is to make precise judgement calls.
"Is that really worth it if the quality of these decisions might be lower because you're tired, or grouchy or any number of things?" For him, the answer is clear: "I need eight hours of sleep."
2. Enjoy some 'me' time
Bezos is an early sleeper and an early riser. But that doesn't mean he's rushing off to work the minute he gets out of bed.
"I like to putter in the mornings," says Bezos. "I like to read the newspaper. I like to drink coffee. I like to have breakfast with my kids before they go to school."
A tranquil start to your day — such as this one — is a habit worth getting into. People who start their mornings calmly usually stay that way throughout the day, according to a Wharton Business School study. In the office, a relaxed mood can come in handy during high pressure situations that require rational, level-headed thinking.
As for Bezos, he says that this "puttering" time is "very important" to him.
3. Prioritize what's important
You might think that you're being productive as you jump from one task to the other. But when it comes to decision-making, Bezos favors quality over quantity.
"Why do I need to make a hundred decisions a day? If I make like three good decisions a day that's enough. And they should be as high quality as I can make them," he says.
To help prioritize your workload, identify the three most important decisions you need to make each day or each week. That way, you'll know where to focus your attention and ensure that you're actually being productive.
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