October 1, 2012
If you read A Sneak Peek Into One Day In The Life Of A Fitness Coach, then you know how a basic day of work and life goes for me.
But what about you?
Do you pride yourself on hard work?
Do you want to get as much as possible done with each day of your life?
And finally, if you are going to work your butt off, would you:
A) prefer to be working hard during the time of day when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you’re most productive?
B) opt to waste your valuable time with a daily crapshoot of random hours that, fingers crossed, you guess might be your most productive times of day?
I’m not sure about you, but I’d choose the former.
Here’s exactly how, in 4 easy steps to getting more done during your peak time of the day, and how to find out which time of day is most productive for you:
Step 1. Determine Your Morningness-Eveningness Score
There’s a questionnaire that you can take for free called the “Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire” (MEQ). It’s been around since the 1970’s, and is designed to determine what your peak productivity time of day is. It’s actually been proven to correlate with your body temperature – meaning that if you’re less sleepy and more alert in the morning, you tend to have higher peak temperatures (and improved muscular force and nervous system activity) in the morning, and vice versa for the evening.
Once you’ve taken the MEQ, you’ll know your peak time of day.
Step 2. Do Your Most Attention Demanding Tasks During Your Peak Time
Once you’ve taken the MEQ, things are quite as simple as merely working during your most alert time of day and avoiding work during your non-alert times.
Instead, you should pay attention to the recommendations from a recent study, which researched night owls vs. early risers, and found that no matter who you are, you should opt to do challenging and attention-demanding tasks during your peak time of day. These are the type of activities that require more focused and linear thinking or simply more motivation. So during your peak time of day, you should choose activities like:
-Business meetings that involve planning or scheduling
-Billing or accounting work or conversations requiring math
-Writing articles that contain technical expertise
-Mechanical work (e.g. fixing something broken in your office)
During your optimal, peak time of day, you’ll be better at focusing in on a task and eliminating distractions (and yes, this means that when possible, you should do any exercise sessions during your peak time of day).
Step 3. Do Creative Tasks During Your NON-Peak Time
The same study mentioned above showed that when you’re less alert (outside your peak time of day), you’re actually MORE creative. So during your NON-peak time of day, you should choose activities that require outside-the-box thinking or creative problem-solving, like:
-Meetings that engage brainstorming or mindmapping
-Conversations that require unique problem-solving approaches
-Writing articles that involve “blue-sky” thinking, fiction or humor
-Artistic work (e.g. re-arranging your office)
Interestingly, when it comes to play, this also means you’re going to be more likely to enjoy creative activities during your most non-analytical, non-peak time of day. So if you find out you’re an evening person, and you have the option for flexible work hours, then save “analytical, thinking” work for later in the day, and watch that funny TV show or entertaining book you've been wanting to read in the morning.
Step 4. Hack Your Peak Time
Obviously, despite your morning vs. evening preference, we live in a society where we mostly follow an early riser’s schedule, and we also frequently communicate with people who may not share our “peak times”.
If you are someone who has to conform to another person’s work schedule or peak time, then you’ll want to do some things to help shift your sleep patterns or keep you more alert even when you’re outside your peak time.
Some tricks you can use to hack your peak time include:
-Light Boxing. Light boxes emit bright light from the blue light wave spectrum, which causes a cortisol release and increased alertness. If you’re an evening person trying to be a morning person, using one of these for 10-15 minutes in the morning can help. If you’re a morning person trying to be an evening person, I don’t recommend, as it can disrupt your sleep for a few hours after you use it. You can find these on Amazon, Google, etc. – for example, the one you can use on your desk is “NatureBright Sun Touch”. For waking up naturally, I also own this “natural sunlight” alarm clock by BioBrite.
-Exercise. When you do exercise (especially aerobic exercise such as a 20 minute brisk treadmill walk), you produce Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a protein that acts on neurons in your central nervous system and peripheral nervous system to help your existing neurons survive and also to encourage growth of new neurons and neuronal connections. Whether you’re a morning or evening person, this can be a great reason to squeeze in a quick 20-45 minute run, bike ride or bout of cardio before any non-peak time of day activity during which you anticipate having high intellectual demands.
-Boost Brain Waves. There are a number of devices that can help push your brain into a state of alert, alpha-brain wave production. These include Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency (PEMF), such as the Earthpulse, which is a device you can simply place a few feet from your body and leave running for up to an hour; Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CEP), which emits lights and sounds via a device you wear on your head (like the MindAlive CES Light Therapy Device); or even audio tracks or sounds you can play in your home or office (such as the AlphaMind phone app or Alpha Wave CD’s).
So those are the 4 steps to getting more done during your peak time of the day:
Simply 1) find your peak time; 2&3) split up your tasks accordingly 4) then use tricks to shift your peak time when necessary. You’ll find yourself becoming much more efficient compared to simply guessing when you get the most done and squandering your hours working like a madman during that time.
Do you like this kind of information (as opposed to pure “fitness” advice”)? If so, let me know by leaving your comments or feedback below.
Also, if you have questions about how to find out which time of day is most productive, just leave your question below.