Do you know what time of day you’re most creative, when you can best concentrate, or when you should have a productive heart to heart talk? If you’re like most of us, you casually categorize yourself as a “morning” or “night” person and leave it at that.
We set our body clocks around the ever-increasing demands of daily life, but recent productivity research suggests we alter this arrangement. Productivity research is conduct to help workers increase their productivity by capitalizing on their body’s energy efficiency, which means we should let our body’s circadian rhythms take the lead in determining everything from what time we workout to what time we make a Facebook post. It’s bold research that’s worth exploring.
Sue Shellenbarger gets right to the point in her recent Wall Street Journal article, The Peak Time for Everything. Shellenbarger reports that “paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.” Let’s take a look at what productivity research has revealed so far:
Morning is the Best Time of Day to:
• Concentrate. According to Shellenbrager, Steve Kay, a professor of molecular and computational biology at the University of Southern California, says that late morning is the time of day most adults are at their best for performing cognitive work. Our body temperatures begin to increase just before we wake, and continue to do so through the first few hours of the morning. During this time, our working memory, concentration and alertness improve.
• Send Emails. As cited in the article, a study of billions of emails revealed that those sent early in the day have the best chance of being read, according to Dan Zarrella, a social media scientist. That could be because we tend to check our email first thing in the morning.
• Post Upbeat Tweets. Shellenbrager writes that a Cornell University study of 509 million Tweets sent over two years by 2.4 million Twitter users suggests that Tweeters tend to post the most positive messages in the morning. It could be that people are feeling happy and refreshed thanks to a good night’s sleep.
• Tackle Tough Conversations. For most of us, our energy levels are high, and clarity is at its best during the morning. This is the right time to tackle a tough conversation.
Wait Until Evening to:
• Get Creative. You’ll probably be surprised to learn that we’re more creative when we’re tired. Shellenbrager reports a 2011 study led by Mareike Wieth, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Albion College in Michigan, suggests that creativity may get a boost from fatigue. Dr. Wieth theorizes that fatigue may allow our minds to explore more freely, and get those creative juices following.
• Exercise. In the article, Shellenbrager references Michael Smolensky, lead author of “The Body Clock Guide to Better Health” as saying that early evening is the optimal time to exercise. Physical performance peeks in the late afternoon to early evening hours, and risk of injury is least from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Muscle strength tends to peak between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
• Socialize. If you goal is to get your Tweet re-tweeted, the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the best time to send out your Tweet. If Facebook is your pleasure, posts at the 8 p.m. hour get the most “likes.”
Our world demands more from us every day. From carpools to corporate boardrooms, we’re all trying to find ways to get more accomplished in less time. But instead of burning the candle at both ends, we might find productivity pumps up when we slow down and listen to our body’s rhythms.
What part of the day are you most productive? Morning, noon, or night?
image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net