Best Times of the Day to Enhance Productivity
Could you get more done in a day if you figured out when your brain performed certain tasks better? Could you hack your own creativity and enhance productivity?
The research says yes.
If you pay more attention to your body and body clock, to know when you are the most or least alert, you can perform your best each day at those times and be more successful. In fact, disrupting your body's natural cycle can lead to a number of sicknesses.
Morning for Cognitive Skills
Skills such as paying attention, being alert and remembering things are usually at their peak in the late morning. After waking, your body temperature rises and continues to do so as the day progresses, so your cognitive skills improve. If you want them to act a little faster, try a warm shower first thing in the morning.
"You can certainly make better decisions if you are making them at the right time of day," says Rebecca Spencer, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts. She noted that our body's energy levels can soar within just half an hour of waking up.
Daylight vs. Darkness
Our natural cycle of sleeping and waking, since the beginning of time, depended on the daylight or lack of it. Light can stimulate the brain, which then controls other hormones and body temperature. In turn, these determine whether we're tired or alert.
From about midday until 4 p.m., and especially after a big meal, it's normal to feel sluggish. Psychologists at the Pennsylvania State University found that 2 p.m. was most people's sleepiest hour -- a good time to recharge one's batteries or take a nap.
The Ultimate Secret to Productivity
Studies show that it's not necessarily when but how you work which defines your productivity.
The ultradian rhythm is a big part of this. According to Nathan Kleitman, our brain can only handle focusing intensely for 90 to 120 minutes at one time. Kleitman also wrote about the four stages of sleep through which we progress.
Block your time for productivity into 90-minute intervals, with breaks in-between. Turn off your phone to help you avoid distractions. Allot those 90 minutes just for getting things done. After that time block, take a break: Go outside for a 15-minute walk, stretch or drink water. Replenish your energy before getting back to another 90-minute sprint. No matter what time of the day you choose to do this, you'll have found your flow.
Bottom line? Work smarter, not harder, and you'll get more done.