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The Secret to Increasing Your Productivity




Many people ask this question all of the time. We always wonder how we can accomplish everything we set out to do in a day. Companies always wonder how they can inspire their employees to increase productivity.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article that my co-worker sent to me this past Wednesday, September 26th, I was blown away by its content directly relating productivity with our body’s circadian rhythm. Sue Shellenbarger captured a lot of interesting statistics from established research to present very important tips which help us to perform certain tasks at certain times of the day to take advantage of when our bodies are at our peak.

Though this information that I’m sharing may be a little scientific in nature, here at The HR Social we always try to find the connections to how we can take advantage of this as HR professionals and Social Media enthusiasts. So, don’t worry if you don’t fully understand “circadian rhythm” or if you are intimidated by its pronunciation. I’m going to explain that a little further and then break down the information that Sue presented and provide some of my insight and suggestions.

What is Circadian Rhythm?

After doing some further research on the National Institute of General Medical Sciences website, I learned that circadian rhythms are, “physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.” This means that our bodies are guided by the time of day and your body’s circadian rhythm can adjust even if you travel to a different location where the time zone changes. It’s also pretty interesting to note that as it gets later in the day and the sun goes down, our body’s clock receives special signals. Once we see that it’s getting darker out, our eyes send a message to our brain and then our body’s clock produces melatonin. For those who don’t know what melatonin is, it is a hormone that our bodies produce that makes us sleepier.

Once other interesting thing that I found was that if we disregard our circadian rhythm, it can adversely affect us. It has actually been linked to sleep disorders. In other instances where people have abnormal circadian rhythms, associations have been linked to depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorders.

This now leads me into taking a deeper look into Sue’s presented research. We have to take into consideration our body’s clock in order to live a much healthier lifestyle and be more productive during the day.

Peak Performance Breakdown

6:00 AM – Emailing – Sending emails earlier in the morning beating the mid-morning rush helps ensure that emails sent earlier in the morning (i.e. around 6:00 AM) will be read. It is a normal habit to check all of your emails first thing in the morning. Do you have something important to send an email out about? Send it early AM and see the feedback you get.

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM – Tweeting – As my fellow bloggers can attest, this timeframe is key to getting your blog posts read. This hour or so timeframe is when many people search twitter and read articles. Tweets during this time actually can be motivating for people. I usually see a lot of tweeters give a shout out to other friends on twitter in this timeframe. It really provides a boost in your day!

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM – Tough Conversations – If you are a morning person, you should look to have intense, tough conversations at this point in the morning, your body temperature is rising and you are more alert, and have increased energy and clarity.

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM – Cognitive Work – At this point of the morning your cognitive ability increases as your body temperature increases. You will find that during this timeframe and even through towards noon that you will be able to concentrate more and you will have an increased memory.

12:00 PM to 4:00 PM – Distraction – From lunch time through mid-afternoon is when everyone gets more easily distracted. As I am sure that I am preaching to the choir, everyone has issues with concentrating during this time and so you should plan out your day to do less critical work during this time. You don’t want to make mistakes because you’re mind is floating off into la-la-land.

2:00 PM – Nap Time! – At the height of the early to mid-afternoon period is the time when a quick power nap would do amazing things to your body. After taking a quick nap, you can feel energized and rejuvenated to conquer the rest of your day. If you do work full time and don’t have the luxury for a power nap, then just know that you’re not going to be as alert as you would want to be. About nap time – well, good luck trying to get that instituted at your job. Maybe as HR professionals, we can start a movement!

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Time to get on a roll! – During the mid-to-late afternoon hours, is when you body is in peak physical performance. Your muscle strength increases and peaks during this time. This is the prime time to exercise, especially where you utilize your hand-eye coordination. On a less physical note, if that isn’t your forte, you can always check out Twitter and if you’re an amateur blogger like me who wants to get his posts re-tweeted, doing it after 3:00 PM on to 6:00 PM is a prime time. It is more likely that people will re-tweet your tweets during this timeframe because they are lacking the energy (remember you may still be low energy stage if it’s before 4:00 PM) so that read and share other tweeter’s tweets.

5:00 PM – Lung Boost – At this point in time, (hopefully) your work day is about to wrap up and so you can go workout right after work and get a powerful boost from your lungs. Research has shown that your lungs function better at 5:00 PM than any other time of the day! Who knew?

8:00 PM – Facebook Time – At this point in the evening, you should have gotten home and exercised or whatever you do, and then eat dinner and now you just have to check out your daily feed on Facebook. This is the prime time to post stuff. A lot more people have liked posts at this time than any other time during the day.

9:00 PM on – Get Creative – Once 9:00 PM hits, you better get ready to get your creative juices flowing. For me, I have written a lot of my blog posts so far during this timeframe. I find that I can come up with a better post with more attractive content than if I were to do it earlier in the evening while I’m eating or watching TV. During these later hours, your mind’s fatigue from the jam-packed day that you had lowers your inhibitions and allows for creative thoughts and ideas to seep in and you just have to be there to capture them. I’ve even experienced when I can’t fall asleep sometimes when I came up with a new idea or something that I just want to get back up and write more about the ideas that I have. Thus this is why I have so much going on in my life. I stay up late and thing of creative things that helps me share my passion with others.

10:00 PM to 11:00 PM – Drama Time – If you’re a tweeter, you may want to stay away from Twitter during this time of the night. It’s usually infiltrated with tweeters who are just run down from the day and are just tweeting about all of their issues and their days – both positive and negative things. If you’re not the one for drama, stick with following your creative juices and do something else. If you are the one for drama, this is your time to shine!

So, What Am I Saying?

Okay, so you may be reading this at a point in the day when you’re about to check out, go eat and get in that distraction stage, or wish you were napping. Whatever the case may be – wait, before I go on – just don’t let your boss catch you napping on the job – I am not taking the blame for that one! That’s all you! So, basically I’m sharing with you this guide that Sue Shellenbarger shared with us from all of the research she pulled together, what a nice person, right?!

The main point from this post is to make sure that you keep your body in mind when you running around non-stop throughout your day. It’s very easy to not pay attention but we must. Sue even mentioned that when you disregard our circadian rhythms, that disruption can lead to health issues such as diabetes, depression dementia and obesity.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, some of these issues have been on the rise in our country lately. We can make a difference, increase our productivity and prevent these health issues within ourselves if we just pay a little time to no one else but ourselves.

Take a few minutes out of your day and organize it so that it works in sync with your circadian rhythm. Once you do so, come back here and let us know how it’s helped!

Photo Credit.

Avatar of Glenn Petriello

About Glenn Petriello

Glenn Petriello is a mid-level HR Generalist working in New York City. Coupled with his enthusiasm for social media and his entrepreneurial spirit, Glenn created The HR Social to provide an interactive blog experience for HR professionals and Social Media enthusiasts.

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