You Need Rhythm … but not for dancing!

Work Life BalanceGyles Seward published an article entitled, Time Management Techniques – Work with Your Daily Rhythms, not Against Them.  The main theme of this article suggests that our bodies have a rhythm to which we have become accustomed. The article rhetorically asks, if we love those days that we wake up without an alarm clock? The reason for this is that each of us has an internal alarm clock.

This internal alarm clock is known as your circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is any biological process that displays an oscillation of about 24 hours. These 24-hour rhythms are driven by a circadian clock, and they have been widely observed in plants, animal and fungi. Also processes with 24-hour oscillations are also generally called diurnal rhythms. These rhythms respond primarily to light and darkness, and associated functions like hormone production or body temperature.

The big question is, “Why would we need to take any notice of our internal body clock?” Some of the reasons put forth by experts are that being in tune with your circadian rhythms could be the key to improving your sleep, your productivity, and your overall quality of life.

Much like the way in which our bodies influence the time we get up and go to sleep, circadian rhythms also have a big effect on what, when, and how well we get stuff done in our waking hours. Being smart and working with your circadian rhythm can help you get the best out of your day, and be ready for the next one.

Seward suggested some time-specific productivity tips that are understood to be driven by cues from our body’s circadian rhythm, but be mindful that each of our 24 hour rhythms may be somewhat different.

Here is Seward’s List:

6 a.m.Checking our emails has taken over reading the newspaper as our early morning dose of ingesting information. So it makes sense to get it done in this time slot to minimize inbox distractions.

Before 12 p.m. – Right before lunch hour is the time when our brains are working at their highest capacity, with optimal focus and attention. This may be a good time to schedule heavy brain function tasks before lunch. You could also reward yourself with an appropriate treat to supercharge your motivation.

1 p.m.After lunch we may experience a slowdown. This could be a good to take a mental break. If you are at work, perhaps some moderate and routine tasks can be accomplished.

2 p.m.Your afternoon lull arrives and if the opportunity exists, this would be a good time to refresh yourself for the remainder of the day. If there is an opportunity to visit a team member whose workstation is a short distance, consider walking over, provided it is convenient and does not cause any disruptions.

4 to 5 p.m.For many, the working day comes to an end. But that doesn’t mean they no longer plan to use their time and energy wisely. It is postulated that at this time our hand-eye coordination and lung capacity are at their peak. This might be a good time to schedule your gym or exercise class.

9 p.m.Studies have shown that creative thinking comes into play as our mental reserves become depleted. Tired of conventional thinking patterns, our brains are likely to explore new avenues and traverse down non-linear paths, offering new insight and solutions to problems incurred earlier in the day.

Of course every circadian rhythm differs slightly from the next. The only way to know you’re working in line with yours is to listen to your body, and note when you feel most distracted, or engaged. You will begin to tune in to your body and become more productive, and feeling better because of it.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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