The Best Time of the Day to Do Everything


Our bodies run on a circadian rhythm that affects our mood and energy throughout the day. It follows that certain tasks are better suited for certain times of the day, when our body is in sync with those tasks. (See also: Finding Your Best Work Hours)

That said, there are many tasks for which it is difficult to find a consensus for the best time. Many famous authors, Hemingway to name one, preferred writing in the morning, while others, like James Agee, where nocturnal writers.

One item for which there is little dispute is when to eat a live frog. That would be the first thing in the morning, said Mark Twain, because after that, "nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."

Let's take a look at what else we know for sure we should be doing at certain times of the day.

Best Tasks for Mornings

Get a jump on the day by doing these tasks when mind and body are still reveling in the possibility of a new day.

6:00: Send Email

6 a.m. messages are most likely to be read. If you can't wake up that early, use an email scheduler like Google's Boomerang app.

8:00: Read Twitter

Want to get your Twitter fix for the day? Reading twitter between 8-9 a.m. will start your day off with more upbeat, enthusiastic messages. (But save the actual tweeting for 3 p.m., the time your tweet is most likely to be retweeted.)

8:00: Memorize

8 a.m. is also ideal for quick memorizing. It's when your immediate recall is highest. For longer retention, however, study at 10 p.m.

9:00: Make a Business Call

Make business calls just when you get to work. There's always the hit-or-miss aspect of the person you're calling not being available, so an early start allows you to go to Plan B if you can't reach someone.

9:30: Drink Coffee

Studies show that the cortisol level for most people peaks between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., making that a particularly unnecessary time to load up on caffeine, which constricts blood vessels, which gets the heart pumping faster and, in turns, sends more oxygen to the brain. The best time to drink coffee is when cortisol levels are dropping.

10:00: Thinking Work

Get your cup of joe and hit the hard stuff. When it comes to doing cognitive work most adults perform best in the late morning. As body temperature starts to rise just before awakening in the morning and continues to increase through midday, working memory, alertness, and concentration gradually improve. The ability to focus and concentrate typically starts to slide soon thereafter.

Best Tasks for Afternoons

You know there'll be a nap involved in this. (See also: 5 Surprising Benefits of Naps)

Noon: Learn

Studies show that the best time to learn is right before taking a nap, which allows the brain to sort through the new information and file it away for easy retrieval when it is needed. So, take in new information from noon to 1 p.m., and follow that up with…

1:00: Nap

The best time for "The Ultimate Nap" nap is between 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., which is when your rapid eye movement and slow-wave sleep cycles cross, described in scholar Sara Mednick's book Take a Nap!. Using the "Nap Wheel," you can spin the dial to find the optimal time for a snooze.

4:00: Exercise

From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., your strength and endurance are at their peak, and when the risk of injury is low (because we tend to be alert and our body temperatures are high, making muscles more supple). Your lungs are also at the day's peak performance level at this time.

Best Tasks for Evenings

Wind the day down gracefully — and productively.

7:30: Grocery Shopping

The time you can have the store to yourself is from 7:30 p.m. until closing. No need to fight the crowds just to restock your pantry.

8:00: Walk the Dog

It is said that dogs like company, so the best time to walk them is in the evening after dark, which is popular time for dog walks and gives them (and you) the best chance for bumping into others (and socializing) on the canine walking circuit.

8:00: Post on Facebook

While you're waiting for Spot to do his business, go ahead and make your Facebook posts. Posts during this time tend to get the most likes.

Does this list of optimal timing match your daily schedule? When do you take your nap?

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