“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamotte
At the age of 45, I learned something about myself. I should have known it before – all the evidence was there, but I ignored it because to take it seriously would have meant changing things I did not want to change. But at last the evidence is overwhelming, and I have to pay attention.
I am useless from a creative standpoint after 2 PM.
Any writing I get done has to happen before 2 in the afternoon, or it won’t be any good at all. Any critical business decision I need to make needs to happen before 2 as well (see the life-changing book Willpower for why that is).
There is nothing magic about 2 PM. It is more about I wake up at 6 in the morning, and my brain is really only good for about 8 hours. I don’t think it was always like this. I used to have late night writing sessions, where I would power up on coffee and pizza and power through.
But if I am serious, none of that writing was actually very good, either.
No, everything I have written in the last decade I am proud of happened before 2 PM. After that, I just have to reboot. I don’t think it is a consequence of growing older, but more recognizing something about myself I hadn’t paid attention to before.
But, as I am fond of saying, it is better to know than to not know. Because I know, I can arrange my day so that after 2, I don’t have critical meetings, I don’t try to do creative things, and I don’t demand too much of myself.
This doesn’t mean I can’t work after 2, of course – but it does mean that I need to structure things so that things after 2 don’t require my creativity or heavy decision-making skills. Light meetings, status updates, rote work – all of that can happen after 2, and probably should.