Are you a night owl or a lark? Knowing can help you be more productive.
Picture this: you’re in the office experiencing a mid-afternoon slump. You’re preparing for a client presentation, writing a document, updating your website or dealing with an HR issue. Maybe you’re actually tasked with doing all of these things at once! Cue overload.
While unfortunately there’s no magic wand to get everything done (and especially all at once), there are ways to maintain and boost your energy levels to keep you as productive and relaxed as possible.
Find Your Rhythm
No matter how focused you are on doing a certain task, your internal clock determines when your natural highs and lows occur. This is often referred to as your circadian rhythm. Everyone has one and it’s very regular. Essentially you can be classified as one of two types. Whether you are a “lark” (morning person) or “owl” (night owl) can have a bigger role than you might expect in determining not only your alertness but also your ability to get things done at certain points of the day.
Ignore this at your own peril. If you’re a lark and you set a late schedule, or an early schedule if you’re an owl, it’s unlikely you’ll perform at your best. Research even indicates that circadian mismatches increase the prevalence of unethical behaviour. The reason behind this? It’s simple – at certain times, people, i.e. you, lack the energy to resist temptation.
Knowing your lark/owl status means you can maximise your performance by setting assignments, deadlines and expectations around your individual rhythm.
Finding Your Own Productivity Peak
So what are the best times for peak productivity? Everyone takes a while to reach optimal levels of alertness and energy in the morning – it’s really just the hour you start that differs. After lunch (which for you might be early or late), these levels begin to decline, reaching a general low at around 3pm and hitting a second high at around 6pm. After that, alertness tends to decline for the rest of the evening, before rising again for the next morning. However, owls often get a well-documented second wind and can keep powering along for several more hours at night, whilst the larks, move into ‘power down’ mode.
The general rule is to schedule the most important tasks around your peaks in alertness as often as possible and then tackle your least important tasks when your alertness/concentration levels are lower. The other rule is be who you are, don’t attempt to work super late if you’re a lark, and don’t be attempting to routinely work early if you’re an owl.
What if you’re a lark and your business partner/client, etc is an owl? Don’t despair. Research has shown that you’re both likely to be firing on all cylinders around 11am. So scheduled those super important combined brainstorms/pitches in that timeslot.
Look After Yourself
As clichéd as it sounds, eating well and staying hydrated can help you to minimise the impact of those darned slumps. Staying hydrated, instead of overdoing the tea/coffee (or mid arvo sugar hit) may even boost your concentration and prevent headaches. Eating a banana, well-known for high potassium and magnesium levels (which are great for your brain) can also boost your mood as they also contain significant amounts of tryptophan and tyrosine.
Naps have also been linked to increases in task performance. Yes really. In an ideal world, when you next feel an afternoon slump coming on, take a nap and your alertness will most likely improve for the rest of the day. But limit your shut-eye to 20-40 mins otherwise you’ll just feel groggy.
Outsource For Success
We all have tasks we just don’t enjoy doing. If it’s possible, why not offload that task to someone who loves doing it? It could be those dreaded admin tasks that feel like wading through glue, answering the phone that always seems to ring just as you’re getting into something or maybe it’s managing your bookkeeping – and let’s be honest for those of us that aren’t bookkeepers, sticking pins in your eyes might seem like more fun. Or maybe it’s managing the diary, playing endless diary/email pingpong that drives you nuts.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the business continuum, if you’re serious about what’s next for you and your business, the trick is to have yourself set up in such a way that you’re not hamstrung by things that ‘other people’ could take care of. Ie: the things that get in the way of you being able to focus on your real priorities – finding customers, servicing those customers and delivering on your product/service promise – or whichever part of your business you love most.
If you outsource, you can maintain your focus on what really matters to you, your clients and your business rather than being distracted by other stuff.
And that’s where we might be able to help.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help free you from admin, answering your phone, meeting management or even providing you with flexible office spaces, we’d love to talk to you. You can call us on 1300 318 680 or drop us a note.