Back in the day, there was some interest in Biorhythms: the idea that individual cycles of intellectual, emotional, and physical capabilities begin at your birth and continue for the rest of your life. At any moment in time, you can see where you stand on each of these cycles and plan your work and your life accordingly.
For example, you probably want to take an intelligence test when your intellectual cycle is at its highest. You do better to engage in important relationship matters when your emotional cycle is peaking and avoid fights or important decisions when it is low. You’ll put up a better performance if you schedule a marathon or strength test for the high point in your physical cycle.
I provide that explanation simply to set the stage for a far less rigorous concept: your abilities to think, plan, concentrate, brainstorm, solve problems, and generally turn in a good performance also vary throughout the day. Accordingly, you’ll be more productive and successful if you become aware of these personal variations and incorporate them into your daily schedules.
Here’s a brief discussion:
All of us have times when we’re hitting on all cylinders and “crushing” whatever task, project, or goal we’re pursuing. That’s just natural.
But these times are probably not random. If you keep track of when you’re feeling most smart and capable, you’ll almost certainly find a recurring pattern.
For example, many of us do better in the morning than in the afternoon. Of course, your pattern may be different. That’s why it’s smart to pay attention to how you’re feeling from one part of the day to another, and take steps to discern your personal pattern.
Once you see when you’re usually peaking, you can begin to schedule work on your most challenging and/or important tasks, projects, and goals for those times.
Every peak naturally has a complementary valley. Just as your capabilities reach their highest at certain times, they also fall to their lowest at others.
Most people find their performance tends to fall off in early afternoons, but you may feel a little slower or weaker at some different part of your day. It’s not important when this tends to happen. It’s only important that you recognize the pattern.
After you begin to notice these moments and discover the rhythm of their recurrence, you can more purposefully manage your schedule to fill these periods with busywork, simple tasks, or even idleness.
You won’t improve the quality of your performance, but in this way you will greatly reduce the chances of making mistakes or delivering substandard results on important tasks, projects, and goals.
Between one performance valley and the next peak, there’s usually a lengthy period of recuperation. This can take the average person several hours. However, you may recover more quickly than most people.
I’m not sure how you can shorten this period of recuperation, but I’m guessing that some combination of a power nap, nutrition, light exercise, and a change of attention or environment may contribute to a faster recovery.
Once you notice your pattern of valley-to-peak recuperation, you can experiment with various remedial efforts to see if you can speed up your return to a higher level of functioning.
One remedy that definitely helps speed recovery is a break. Whether you take a coffee break, an exercise break, a conversation break, or something other kind of break, a simple but abrupt change from whatever you’re working on to something different tends to short circuit the need for a lengthy recuperative phase.
A break won’t instantly return you to your peak performance level, of course, but it will significantly boost your ability to think, plan, concentrate, brainstorm, solve problems, and generally turn in a good performance.
Knowing these cycles exist, monitoring yours, and adjusting your schedule in light of them is a simple but effective way to get the most productivity from your best moments, and over the long haul greatly increase your level of success.
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