Work With Your Natural Energy Cycles for Greater Productivity
All of us have natural highs and lows in our energy throughout the day. Tuning into yours is essential to making the most of your time.
Identify your energy cycles
As much as we would all love to we can’t create more time, but we can use our time more wisely. One of the best ways to do this is working with your natural energy cycles. Start by tracking your energy levels to see when throughout the day you are at your sharpest and when your energy starts to wane. Keep a journal or chart for a week and you'll begin to see patterns emerge - times of the day when you feel like you're operating at your peak and other times when you feel tired and distracted. If you aren't sure look for clues such as yawning or reaching for another cup of coffee or sugary treat as signs that your energy is low.
Plan your day (and week) with your energy cycles in mind
Once you identify your peaks and troughs you can start to organize your day around these natural cycles. Plan creative tasks or important meetings at times of the day when your energy is at its peak; save mundane or routine tasks for the times of the day your energy is lower.
Also look for wider energy cycles. Do you feel like you can tackle the world on Tuesday, but are wrecked on Wednesday? It's good to keep these trends in mind as well as you schedule your week ahead.
Include breaks throughout your day
Nap, meditate, take a walk around the block, have a cup of tea - whatever it is, make sure you take breaks to rest and recharge throughout the day. When you feel your energy start to flag it's a good indication that it's time to take a break. Pushing through tiredness just depletes you and means you'll have less and less energy by the end of the day.
The length of time you feel comfortable working without a break is very personal, but advocates of the Pomodoro Technique suggest working in 25-minute chunks of time called 'pomodoros'. At the end of first three intervals you take a short break (3 - 5 minutes) followed by a longer break (15 - 30 minutes) after every fourth pomodoro. You can use either a desktop timer or an online timer to mark the beginning and end of each session. The technique allows for greater focus and flow by focusing exclusively on a task for a short period of time without interruption.
Don't forget the basics
It's important to make sure you're getting enough sleep, exercise and eating a healthy diet to keep your energy at its optimum. You wouldn't expect a car to run without gasoline, our bodies are no different. Often a lack of energy is actually a sign that something is out of balance in your life. And if you find your energy levels are flagging even if you're taking good care of yourself it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure there isn't a medical reason for your fatigue.