Maximize Your Day: What's the Best Way to Work When You're Overworked? When there aren't enough hours in the day, should you work late or get up early? start-up, entrepreneur, side business, small business, start-up launch, going proNEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Whether you're a busy executive juggling a demanding work schedule or an aspiring entrepreneur with a business to get off the ground, more often than not there just aren't enough hours in the day. Although it would be nice to get everything accomplished between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, when that can't happen we're forced to choose between being up with the sun or burning the midnight oil. No matter your career or business goals, experts say there is a smarter way to work when you're overworked. Check out best strategies for your busy days. If you're a busy executive ... "If it's not on your calendar it's not going to get done," says Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner at executive search firm Cornerstone Search Group. "You are always going to get pulled in different directions, but if you block off two or three hours a couple of days a week just for administrative duties or processing your email backlog, then you'll ensure that those things get done." Busy executives also have to learn to maximize every moment of their work day -- even on their daily commute or on a business trip, Raz says. "There is no clock on your day. There is no 9-to-5," Raz says. "If you're traveling on a plane, in a car service or on a train and you have a little bit of time to focus, you've got to be working." Many executives embrace the power of early office hours to accomplish more than they can when surrounded by co-workers, Raz says. "I like to get into the office early, around 7, about an hour and a half before everyone starts getting in at 8:30. I find that I can get two to three times the amount of work done than I could in a normal hour-and-a-half stretch in the middle of the day," Raz says. "Those morning hours are critical for responding to emails, doing proposals or other things that have to happen with minimal distraction."
If you're unsure when you might have the least distraction in your day, ActionCoach business coach Kevin Weir says to take an "inventory" of when you're the most productive. "Ask yourself, 'What time of the day does that typically happen?'" Weir says. "Some people are never going to be effective individuals getting up at 5:30 and being in the office by 7:30. If you have the ability, change your work and sleep patterns for 14 to 21 days to the earlier times and measure your effectiveness compared to working the later hours."
"Entrepreneurship gives you freedom -- the freedom to choose which 80 hours a week you want to work -- and that's the key. Opportunities and challenges do not arrive neatly packaged to suit your timeline. They come messy and loud and at the most inopportune times. I say buckle up, deal with it and get used to burning both ends of the candle." For small-business owners, late nights may be a "little less attractive" for working than early mornings, just because there is no "sleeping in" for most entrepreneurs, Raz says. "People are human. If your day starts early, by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., you're really tired," he says. "Sleep is one of the most important things for your body, and five or six hours of sleep is much better than one or two hours of sleep. Many times it's better to go to bed at 11:30 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. than it is to stay up until 2 a.m. and sleep until 8 a.m."
Knowing when it's time to "put it to bed" may be difficult, but Raz says if your eyes start closing, it's time to call it a night. "If you have to re-read the same line a few times, that's a sign. You're not a machine. When you start getting exhausted say, 'I'm not trying to be a hero. Let's resume this tomorrow.'"