Everyone has a productivity rhythm. The sooner you determine yours, you can take advantage of the natural cycle that will release the next level of efficiency for you. Do you feel most productive first thing in the morning? Or maybe you don’t get really up to speed until early afternoon or late at night. Once you get a handle on your own peak productivity time, you can match your own productivity to your peak cycle.
Use Your Circadian Rhythm
The human body operates in cycles, predicting high and low functions throughout 24-hour periods. circadian rhythms are influenced by daylight, darkness, external noise, quiet, eating, or fasting. At the same time, you have certain times of day that when your mental energy is at its peak. These times don’t necessarily coincide with each other.
Take Advantage of the Morning Hours
Early morning is the best time to send emails you want to be read; 6 a.m. messages are most likely to beat the morning rush.
Morning hours are typically the most alert times, when you should do cognitive work. You may find that morning, especially early morning is the best time for solving analytical problems, getting ahead on reading projects, or setting strategic plans. Body temperature rises from just before the time you wake up through midday, which improves working memory, concentration and alertness. Early morning hours can be a sanctuary for many leaders, because they are free of daily distractions and meetings.
The time between noon and 2 p.m. may be the best time for meetings, sales calls and tackling tough problems in the workplace. The body is still in a sustained state of productivity. The sun is also brightest at this time, and it tends to be the noisiest time of day. These outside stimuli reinforce the natural cycle.
Afternoons at the office can be difficult to keep productivity flowing, right? The office becomes quiet, you may experience lapses in concentration, and start to feel drowsy. This is a good time to stand up and take a brisk walk or jog.
While every individual is different, according to research, there are times of day that are generally best for certain activities.
Heat Map Your Productivity
Despite typical circadian rhythms and external work structures often taking control of our productivity, this is a simple, effective way to determine your most productive hours in each 24-hour period.
Red is your most productive time of day, followed by orange (still productive, but not your peak), then yellow (when you are starting to feel sluggish and have to concentrate to continue working), and green, when you may as well hang it up and take a break, because you are wasting time trying to maintain productivity during these periods. Give it a try for 24 hours, modify your priorities according to what you learn, and watch your productivity skyrocket!
1. Listen to your own body. Try to find ways to adapt to your work productivity to your natural rhythms, whether that’s tackling big projects early in the day when you’re most alert or hitting the gym during your lunch break for a pick-me-up.
2. Get creative. If you are trying to figure out a complex problem at work, test out your late-night creative thinking skills. Spend 15 minutes before you go to bed brainstorming ideas in a notebook, then sleep on it and revisit your thoughts the next day.
3. Be kind to body and mind. Burning the candle at both ends is a surefire way to make you sluggish, irritable and unfocused at work. Get a full night’s sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to stay sharp and working at full capacity.
What time of day is your personal effectiveness at its peak?
Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) has been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years, and she is ready to tackle any question you have.