Prime time has two components, Biological Prime Time (BPT) and Mechanical Prime Time (MPT). The two have little in common, but they go together well.
BPT is the period of the day when you’re the most energized, a stretch of time lasting six to eight hours in any twenty-four-hour period. Like many people, my BPT begins the moment I wake up, and I’m out of gas by early afternoon. BPT is the segment of the day I’m strongest and smartest, so it’s ruthlessly devoted to accomplishment, at my work mostly. There is no more effective period for me and I never fritter it away.
Others have a BPT that begins in late afternoon and stretches into the early morning hours, and there are those whose BPT lies somewhere in between.
Determine when yours occurs and then never waste it. These are the hours you assert control, to do what you need to do to create even more of it. You are better during these periods. Your thinking is sharper and your actions more adroit. Your effectiveness will be triple what it is during your non-BPT hours.
For me, what is wasted time in those hours? It’s exercise, reading, going for a hike, hanging out with friends. Those are important endeavors, but none contribute directly to what I need to do to gain more control and freedom in my life. And what do I do during my BPT to advance my own long-term control and freedom? I do my MPT tasks. (We’ll get to that.)
And what about reading, routine chores, exercising, and hanging out with friends? Try to limit these activities to non-BPT hours, although there will be occasions when you have to be sharp during these less-than-optimal times. If my BPT is in the early morning and there is some critical personal requirement in the evening, how do I energize myself so I’m not sleep-walking my way through that important task? I find a way to take a nap in the afternoon.
Using BPT wisely will quickly jump you ahead. Protect it and parse it out carefully. Be jealous of it and do not fritter it away.
How do you know when your BPT occurs? If you’re not a heavy caffeine user, you already know when it is, but if you’re a first-thing-in-the-morning coffee drinker you may not know when it occurs because the caffeine creates a false BPT. (You could call it Chemical Prime Time.) That’s a tough thing, because for the caffeine-addicted the only way to discover true BPT is to quit, and that can be an onerous quest. (I’ve written a three-part blog series on beating caffeine addiction. Go to workthesystem.com/caffeine.)
If you’re a heavy alcohol consumer, you’re probably also a caffeine drinker. I recommend you find a way to control the alcohol consumption, because if you don’t, your life is going to have problems way beyond figuring out when your BPT occurs. Reduce or eliminate the alcohol first and then deal with the caffeine and any other addictions.
MPT is very different from BPT. MPT is not about your most effective time period, it’s about what you do. MPT is comprised of the mechanical tasks that you have to accomplish that will expand your personal control and freedom. These are your one-time machine-building efforts that make it possible for you to “make more and work less.”
Here are some examples of my own MPT: R&D, strategic meetings with business partners and managers, working on my next book, writing blog posts, interviewing people who will work for me, speaking to groups, and doing interviews with the media.
Combining BPT and MPT is the perfect synthesis as you perform your machine-building tasks during the time of day when you are the most powerful.