'Listen To Your Body Clock - & Achieve More Today!'
Author; Rosie Gray
At a recent business lunch, I met Sarah* who revealed she had problems with Time Management - but she wasn't sure why. She appeared outwardly organised, and runs both a successful small manufacturing company and a home admirably, but often felt overwhelmed and frustrated.
A few focussed questions revealed possible causes for her frustration - a partner on assignment outside the UK and a noisy work environment. Perhaps most astonishingly, as we talked Sarah realised how these two seemingly unconnected issues were combining to throw her natural body clock out of kilter.
Sarah is naturally a 'Lark' - waking early and easily each morning, and producing her best work early in the day. She knew she really wanted to be in bed by about 10.30pm, to be her best.
But time zones were making it dificult to talk to her long-distance partner until late in the evening, so she rarely settled down with her horlicks before midnight.
The quietest time to work was in the evening too. But at that time, her concentration was low. She felt tired, uninspired and progress seemed to elude her. The two issues combined, resulting in her rising later and missing out on her naturally most productive time.
As Sarah noticed the impact of these factors, she saw new, simple choices. In the coming weeks, she began using e-mail to communicate more with her partner, and to call him earlier in he evening, rather than wait for his call. And she's begun working much more from her home office during the day as it's quieter. Result - she's feeling happier, regained her perspective and is achieving more each day.
Our Natural 'Body Clock'
We all have a preferred 'clock' for our bodies (often referred to as your Circadian Rythm) and have peaks and troughs of efficiency during the day.
Some are 'Larks', rising early and full of energy in the morning. 'Larks' experience a bit of an afternoon dip, before recovering energy in the early evening. The 'Larks' usually prefer to be tucked up in bed soon after the late news, if not earlier.
Others find it more of a struggle to get out of bed on a workday. Maybe the 'snooze' on the alarm rings several times before these slower starters emerge, and several cups of strong coffee are esential befor they get into their stride. But by lunchtime, these 'Afternoon Types' are up to speed and get better until they have an energy dip in late afternoon. They too recover, and will happily be awake until past midnight.
The third group I think of as the true 'Night Owls'. Happiest left to snooze during the day, the 'Night Owls' prefer to rise late, and are awake easily through the night. These are the people who work happily on the night shift!
From these snapshots you probably recognise your own preference - are you a Morning, Afternoon or Night Type? By noticing when you're naturally feeling your best during the day, you can boost your own productivity.
How Can You Make The Most Of Your Natural 'Body Clock'?
Actions you can take to surf your personal energy wave effectively include;
- Schedule time to do your more challinging 'brain' work or presentations when you're going to beat your best
- Schedule time for the undemanding 'bitty' tasks when you expect to be in a bit of a dip
So, in practice; If you're a 'Lark' use the morning for tackling the big tasks first. Then if you experience an afternoon slump, use this time to re-energise by catching up on you e-mail, or phone calls.
If you're an 'Afternoon Type', you'll probably prefer to handle those small jobs before lunch, so you're warmed up nicely to accomplish great things in the afternoon.
Either way, recognise your preference and use it to your advantage.
* Sarah is a real person but we've changed her name in this article.
Next Time Management Article; Maintaining Peak Productivity At Work