All people are different. Some people are "morning larks" who are most productive in the early hours of the day, while others are "night owls" who thrive during the night. We experience productivity "peaks" and "valleys", and we simply cannot be productive whenever we want or all the time. There are times when we are highly productive, and there are times when we are not.
Just because you are not productive at certain hours does not mean that you should dismiss those hours. Instead, you should find when you are most productive so that you can optimize those hours to achieve more. Knowing when you are your most productive will immensely help you to deal with your most challenging tasks and generally help you do more.
Humans run a well-defined internal clock that determines our energy levels throughout the day. It is often referred to as a circadian rhythm because they tend to last about 24 hours and are supported by the Earth's rotation around the Sun.
The times when you are your most productive differs between people, but the cycle is universal and mostly regular for everyone. A great example of the circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle, where a person is awake and active during one part of the day, and then they tend to relax, unwind, and eventually sleep, during the other part of the day.
Humans move cyclically. And if you want to be your most productive and creative self, you need to figure out when you are most productive in your rhythm and sync to it.
Many studies show that our brains work in 90 to 120-minute blocks of productivity. After this time has passed, the brain needs to take a break. These productivity blocks are called ultradian cycles. Each cycle starts when your brain is most productive and focused. As time passes, your brain's energy will slowly deplete. Even though you can continue working while having low energy, that does not mean you should. You will not be as effective as you were since your brain needs a break.
Instead of pushing yourself over your limits, you should focus on finding your personal ultradian cycles. By knowing when you are your most productive, it will be easier for you to tackle projects that require creative thinking, problem-solving, and other tasks that involve putting your brain to work. You can do your less intense brain-intense work for when your brain is not in its power peak.
Finding Your Most Productive Hours
The idea behind this is to track your motivation, energy, and focus so that you can get a sense of when you are the most productive. The easiest way to find your most productive hours is to track how you spend your day. For this, you need a clock and a pen and paper.
Start working and after about an hour, reflect on what you have accomplished the hour before. Record your motivation, focus, and energy level for each hour that you are working. The longer you track your productivity, the more reliable your trends will be.
After you are done with work for the day, take a few minutes to reflect on what you did that day. See if you can notice any patterns and when you are your most productive, as well as when do you feel a dip in your energy. Be honest when writing down how you spent your workday. Stick with logging your time for a week or two and you will have clear indicators of how your ultradian cycles work.
Organize Your Day Around Your Most Productive Hours
Now that you know when you are most productive, you can start planning out your day so that it is as optimized for more productivity. To keep track of your time you can use a productivity time tracker app like Insightful.
With our productivity time tracker app, you can easily measure your productivity by labeling websites and apps as productive or unproductive and using those labels and the time you tracked using them to know exactly how productive you are.
If you are running a company or managing a team, Insightful can also help you keep track of your employees' productivity. Our productivity time tracker app can also help your employees (and you!) find their most productive hours. Instead of using pen and paper and writing down what you did, you can let Insightful do that for you.
Using our intuitive productivity tagging and tracking system, you can easily figure out what you did during the day and whether or not what you did was productive.
Figuring out how your ultradian cycles work and finding your most productive hours can have huge benefits for you. By knowing when you are your most productive, you can easily get more work done and the work you do will likely be better.
The goal of finding your most productive hours is to be more productive and not speed up how you work. Finding your most productive hours can also help remove that nagging sense of guilt about not doing anything we all sometimes experience.