Have you ever tried to focus on a task only to find your attention waning? We’ve all been there, and it’s not entirely your fault if you can’t seem to get anything done. When it comes to productivity, motivation is only a part of the equation. You have to listen to your body to know which times you’re going to be most productive.
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Working with Your Ultradian Rhythm
Most of us are familiar with the Circadian Rhythm, the 24-hour cycle when we shift between wakefulness and sleep. Within the cycle are shorter blocks of time when we feel most productive.
It’s called the ultradian cycle—the time when we should spend more time doing the most important tasks of the day.
What does the ultradian cycle have to do with productivity?
The ultradian cycle is a 90-minute block of time when we experience heightened focus. Since our concentration is the highest during this time, it makes sense to do the most important tasks of the day. Tasks that require critical thinking, problem solving, and strategizing are best tackled during this time.
After the 90-minute sprint, you can still do some more work, but your focus will be on a slump. This is the best time to schedule routine work and other tasks that do not require a lot of thinking.
As the ultradian cycle does not come at the same time for everyone, it helps to know when heightened concentration ebbs and flows. Here’s how you can determine the most and least productive hours of your day:
1. Create an energy map
Night owl or early bird? We sometimes use this as basis for when we’re most productive. But this leaves a lot of room for error (and disappointment) as it doesn’t reflect when your energy and focus are at their highest.
To find out when you are most likely to get things done, record your energy and concentration levels in hourly intervals. You can use either a journal or spreadsheet for recording your data. Do this for a couple of weeks—you will eventually see a pattern that reflects your most and least productive days.
2. Identify when to perform your tasks
Which of your daily activities require the most concentration? Which activities can you perform on autopilot? The secret to becoming productive is working in sprints. During this time, you can combine critical-thinking tasks and low-energy activities to make the most of the 90-minute ultradian window. Schedule tasks that don’t require much energy after the challenging ones.
3. Create a tentative plan for the upcoming week
Every Friday, draft a schedule of your to-dos for the following week. Write down all the things you want to accomplish and assign them on a specific day. For example, you do a lot of creative thinking on Tuesdays at 10am. Schedule your most challenging activity at this time. Since you know from your energy map when your energy and focus are highest, take advantage of these hours to increase your productivity.
Expect interruptions to happen
Being productive comes at a different time for everyone, so it’s important to know when your ultradian cycle is. As much as you’d like to maximize your 90-minute work sprint, the reality is that interruptions are likely to happen during this time.
The bottom line is that productivity is more about learning how to work smarter. While you can’t force concentration, you can schedule your most challenging activities at a time when distractions are the lowest; making sure that it intersects with the time when your energy and focus are highest.
Medical Office Lease in Los Angeles
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