When are you most productive? Is it in the wee hours of the morning? Perhaps late at night or on the weekends? In his talk, “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work,” Jason Fried acknowledges that most human beings’ most productive hours are never in the office between the hours of 9 and 5. This is because the workday is shredded into a handful of “work moments”—those precious 15- or 30-minute slices between mandatory meetings, follow-ups, and presentations where workers are allowed to actually get into deep work.Unfortunately, deep work (what we think of as real thinking) doesn’t happen in 15-minute interludes. It happens over long periods of time: i.e., those solitary early morning hours or late nights. It turns out work, like sleep, is phase-based. If you’re interrupted in the early phases, you don’t pick up where you left off. You start over.
If you can’t work from home, advises Fried, try encouraging your office to opt for a silent afternoon or workday on a regular basis. “Four hours of quiet time at the office is incredibly valuable,” says Fried.