As if workload and email weren’t enough, we humans have another impediment to efficiency, our built-in daily downward spiral. Our metabolic peaks and valleys slowly creep lower as the day goes on. For most people, whether they want to admit it or not, mornings are the period of highest energy and alertness, and it goes downhill from there.
This line represents the typical metabolic roller-coaster of blood sugar and energy levels for eight out of ten people. We spend our days on a downward trek towards sleep. However adequate regular nutrition and balance can help level out the peaks and troughs quite significantly.
Biologically, we are a light-loving species. Our minds and metabolisms react to the changes in light as night turns to day by releasing stimulant hormones such as serotonin (a sleep inhibitor), and cortisol (a stress hormone) into the bloodstream to counteract the effects of melatonin which is introduced in the evenings to help us fall asleep.
This daily rhythm is called circadian, from the Latin words circa (around) and dian (day). Nature attuned our hunter-gatherer ancestors to be alert first thing in the morning (when food would be more plentiful) and also to be sleepy at night (using darkness as protection from predators and motionlessness as protection from injury.)
Most people on the planet, and therefore, the majority of people you interact with will follow this circadian rhythm, with the best time for productive, cerebral activities being 9:00-10:30, and afternoons best suited for less challenging tasks.
Your specific metabolism may vary from this. It is essential to know yourself, rather than immediately assume you fit into a demographic. The key point is to identify your best time of day, assign your most valuable tasks to this period, and firmly defend it against interruptions of all types.
This is an excerpt from my book, Cool Time: A Hands-On Plan for Managing Work and Balancing Time. If you would like a copy, hop on over to my Books page. If you would like me to come and speak to your group, contact details are available on my Speaker page. Either way, you will win back time and money. It’s just practical common sense.
If you are interested, we have a newsletter – a real brief monthly one – that discusses issues around productivity and explains how my keynotes can help. Sign up through Constant Contact here.