Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you always did the most challenging tasks when your body was most alert? Although each person is different, there are certain times of the day when you’re more likely to be productive based on your body’s circadian rhythms. By understanding these rhythms, you can subtly alter your schedule to coincide with the times your body is most alert, allowing you to be your most productive.
The least productive time
When you first awaken in the morning, your reaction times are slow and you’re likely to be groggy and slightly disoriented. On average, it takes thirty to forty minutes to clear this initial awakening fog so that you’re functioning at an acceptable level. During the first thirty minutes to an hour after you awaken is usually the worst time to do tasks that require thought since you’re most likely to make mistakes during this time interval. This is a good time to get moving and rev up the blood flow to your brain and extremities in preparation for the day ahead. Some people experience considerably longer periods of “brain fog” when they awaken in the morning. The reason? They may have slightly lower levels of cortisol which can make it more difficult to awaken in the morning.
The before lunch period
Once that initial grogginess subsides and you start to feel alert, this is a good time to tackle tasks that require focus and alertness. You’re operating at your peak capacity between an hour after awakening to around 1:00 P.M, particularly if you eat a good breakfast upon awakening. These hours are a golden opportunity for you to be your most productive. Save mindless tasks for later in the day when your energy starts to ebb and take advantage of your fully awakened state to be your most productive and efficient.
The after lunch period
Particularly if you eat a heavy lunch, your energy level and alertness can drop dramatically between1:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. This is the time most people feel the urge to take a nap. Some of this effect may stem from biochemical changes that occur in the body in response to eating a big lunch. It may also be normal fatigue in response to being so productive during the first part of the day. This is a good time to do routine, mindless tasks that don’t require much thought or energy. If you can take a twenty minute nap to refresh yourself, so much the better. A brisk walk outside can also help to reenergize you and allow you to be productive again.
The after dinner period
Maybe it’s something to do with that evening meal, but most people experience a burst of energy after dinner that lasts for several hours. Their thought processes again become sharp and their motivation climbs. This is another good time to do work that requires thought and focus. You may find this time in the evening to be one of your most productive times of the day, after the post awakening period.
You’ll probably find yourself starting to wind down after 9:00 P.M. unless you’re a late night person. This is your time to relax and take it easy. After such a busy day, you deserve it!
If you want to document your most productive times of day, try keeping a diary for a few weeks, rating your energy level at various times of the day on a scale of one to five. This will allow you to schedule tasks that require thought at the times you’re most likely to be productive.