Circadian Rhythms and Productivity

I’m always surprised when Facebook notifies me that a friend has shared something in the wee hours of the morning.  I suspect that these friends do not suffer from insomnia, but that they routinely stay up all hours.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. They respond primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythms help determine our sleep patterns. The body’s master clock controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. It receives information about incoming light from the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain. When there is less light—like at night—the body’s master clock tells the brain to make more melatonin, so you get drowsy.

Research has shown that certain times of the day are best for completing specific tasks and listening to your body’s natural clock may help you to accomplish more in 24 hours. Science suggests that the best time for our natural peak productivity is late morning.

I have trained myself over the years to become an early riser. Getting up early to exercise, think, and plan before going to work allows me to be more productive.  I often get another creative boost later in the evening.

Business owners can find it difficult to plan and think creatively at work during working hours.  My best thinking and planning is often done at home, with email and phone turned off.  If that also applies to you, perhaps schedule time working from home each week to plan and think.

Regardless of your personal circadian rhythm the following are a few productivity tips:

  • Experiment to find when (and where) you feel most productive
  • Keep your daily schedules regular
  • Schedule your most important tasks in your peak productivity periods
  • Go somewhere quiet, without distractions, when you need to plan, reflect or be creative
  • Make adequate time for sleep, exercise and switching off
  • Limit social media.

It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.

Focus on being productive instead of busy.

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