If You Want to Manage Your Time Better, You Need to Protect Your "Einstein" Window

May 17, 2017

Identifying and protecting your Einstein window is key to getting the absolute most out of your time.

Todd Dewett believes every person has an “Einstein window” – a time where you are your absolute most productive self.

While the time changes from person to person – for Dewett, it’s first thing in the morning – every person has one. And, if you want to get the absolute most out of your time, you need to protect that window.

That means two things:

  • Ensuring you are focusing that time on your absolute most important tasks.
  • Not allowing other people or technology to interrupt you during that time.

If you do those two things, you’ll get the absolute most out of your day.

What is an “Einstein window”

In his LinkedIn Learning course entitled Managing Your Time, Leadership Guru Todd Dewett described the concept of an Einstein window. So what is it?

“That's the period of every day where you have your little mental peak, right where work feels almost fun, problems feel like no problem at all,” Dewett said in his course. “Work flies off your desk.”

It can by anytime – first thing in the morning, noon, whenever. You might already know when your Einstein window is. If you don’t, you should reflect to uncover the time of day where you are the absolute most productive.

How to protect your Einstein window

Once you’ve identified your Einstein window, it isn’t enough just to do a lot of work during this time. It’s critical you do the absolute most important work, Dewett said – the work that day that will have the absolute most impact to the organization.

So spend some time each morning determining the most important work you need to accomplish that day. And then schedule to do it during your Einstein window, as that’s when you’ll do it best – meaning you’ll have the most positive impact to your organization.

But here’s the problem with your Einstein window: people and technology can disrupt it. People can ask you questions that’ll derail you from your work, or you’ll start getting emails and text messages that will quickly zap away your productivity.

The technology part is easy to fix: turn off your phone and close out your email for the time you are in your Einstein window.

“I promise you the world won't end, if for 30 minutes you turn them off and get focused,” Dewett said in his course. “Stop allowing distractions to take you away from deep thought during your Einstein window.”

When people interrupt you, it can be a bit tougher. Because most of us want to be liked, when someone asks you for help while you are in the midst of your Einstein window, your instinct is probably to say yes.

First off, you can avoid these interruptions by moving to a quiet spot in your office during your Einstein window. Maybe there’s an empty conference room or you can close the door to your office, so distractions are minimized.

But what if that’s not possible and someone disrupts you during your Einstein window? You can still help them, but just help them later.

The next time someone asks you for help during your Einstein window, Dewett suggests you do this:

“Just look at them and say, yes I can help you, but not right this moment,” he said. “Quickly look at your calendar and tell them something like this, two o'clock I'll come see you, we'll knock that out. Is that okay? Almost always, they're going to go, 'sure', and walk away.”

“And do you know what you've just done?” Dewett added. “You've minimized the interruption to your most important thinking time for the day. Only ten seconds was required for you to validate your colleague, send them on their way and get back to what you are doing.”

That’s it, it’s that simple.

The bigger point is that time is your absolute most valuable asset. By both knowing and protecting your Einstein window, you make the most out of that asset.

Leadership Guru Todd Dewett has taught more than 30 LinkedIn Learning courses covering everything from management to developing resiliency to working remotely. Check out all of his courses here.