Are you an early bird or a night owl? Dancing at dawn or alive in the afternoon?
Do you know why you hate morning meetings or prefer to be in before everyone else arrives?
James McGirk, author of A Grand Theory of Everything, points out that we are all impacted by the effects of circadian rhythm, our internal, daily clock that is driven by hormones. His suggestion for being productive is to synchronise your activities with your hormone levels. And this works, mostly. But not always in the way he sets out.
He suggests (testosterone high) mornings are good for “nervy, jumpy activity” when you “blast emails, pitch ideas and crank it out” which is all well and good, but, personally, I have never ‘cranked it out’ in the morning.
As I recently wrote in my post Why getting up super early is a waste of time, not everyone works the same way and some of us do our ‘cranking’ after lunch.
McGirk continues that from 1pm (cortisol levels falling) we should channel our “convivial, ebullient energy” into a meeting. Nope. Not for me.
My afternoons are mine, precious time that I fiercely guard because it’s then that I am, in my own way, cranking it out.
I’m not dismissing McGirk’s theory, I enjoy his writings and take on life, but I do challenge his assertion on what to do when. I’m not a scientist or doctor, but maybe his hormones work differently to mine? I surmise from his theory that he’s a morning person. Maybe my circadian rhythm dances to a different tune?
What we both agree on is that finding your internal rhythm and working in harmony with it will make you sharper and more productive.
The standard 9-5 working structure we are forced to fit into for much of our working life often clouds our knowledge of the right time for us to do things. Certainly, I became more conscious of my rhythm when I started to run my own business from home, but, looking back I’d known it subconsciously for a while and worked with it as much as the strictures of 9-5 would allow.
You can do the same. Why bother? Because it will help you be more productive.
Watch out for your slumps, the times of the day (or the week) when you struggle to get going, when times drags even if it’s an activity you enjoy. Note how long it takes you to do things and what you achieve – or not.
And note your highs, the times when you are in the zone, powering through work or buzzing with ideas. How long do things take to do then? How satisfied do you feel with your contribution or output?
Once you get a feel for your rhythm, block out time, move meetings (when you can) to another time of day and be more aware of how long things take to do. Get things you don’t like out of the way and make time for the more important things.
How does this make you happier at work?
1 – When you match your activities to your rhythm, you need less time to do things = more productive = feeling less pressure
2 – Ticking items off your to do list = positive feeling sense of accomplishment = makes you more motivated