Want to be more productive? Listen to your body.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, research suggests you can make the most of your time by following your body’s circadian rhythms, or internal clock.
Failing to do so may have worse consequences than just fatigue and inefficiency. The Journal notes that an off-kilter body clock is associated with serious health issues like diabetes, depression, dementia and obesity.
So how do you make the most of each day? Here’s a summary of findings from experts the newspaper interviewed (although, it warns, not everyone’s internal rhythms are the same):
Early morning: Have a warm shower when you get out of bed to help raise your body temperature, thus increasing alertness. Check your Twitter account around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. to take advantage of your peak cheeriness.
Late morning: Do cognitive work, as your ability to concentrate starts to decline later in the day. You're at your most distractible between noon to 4 p.m.
Afternoon: Around 2 p.m., you’re getting drowsy. Time for a nap. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., your physical performance – your muscle strength and lung efficiency – peaks, making this a good time to hit the gym.
Right, you’re probably thinking. How on earth are you supposed to juggle all your work and family demands when you’re napping and going to the gym in the middle of the day?
An interview in The Globe and Mail with Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, offers an answer. Schwartz’s solution is to encourage people to fluctuate between 90-minute bursts of intensely focused work and rest.
It isn’t about spending less time at work, he explained; it’s about rethinking how you expend and renew your energy.
“The more continuously and longer you work, the less incremental return you get on each additional hour,” he said. “We are physiologically meant to pulse, and we operate best when we move between spending energy and renewing energy.”
So if your bosses give you the gears for napping during company time? Don’t worry, you’ll make it up to them by being the most efficient employee at the office.