Designing your day is a great way to boost productivity, limit stress, and increase your happiness. Once you decide what is and isn’t important to you, the next step is to decide when to do it.
To do your best work, you must be alert and focused. Everyone has a unique ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. This flow of energy is due to our individual biological rhythms (when hormones associated with energy and focus are released, when body temperatures rise/fall, etc.). Researchers split people into two groups based on when they felt most alert. People most alert in the mornings are classified as “larks,” while people most alert in the afternoon/evening are classified as “owls.”
To determine when you are most alert, all it takes is a little introspection. Pay attention to your energy levels and focus for two days. Recognize when you start to lose attention and willpower. You can also ask yourself, if you were free to set your own schedule, when would you go to sleep? When would you want to do two hours of physically challenging work? And when would you want to take a mentally draining two hour test like the ACT?
Coffee, sugar, and resisting fatigue can offset your natural rhythms. If you are able to, go one week without setting an alarm or fighting against fatigue to reset your body to its natural rhythm.
People simply perform better at both physical and cognitive tasks when they are most alert. The flip side is that people are more creative when we let our minds wander. This means that we are better at creative when we are less alert and focused.
Don’t fight your natural rhythms, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM! Schedule your most important and demanding work when you are most alert and perform less demanding tasks when your energy dips.