When are you most productive? We are all different and I have found that by recognising our own daily patterns we can become far more effective at running a business or even just in general everyday life.
Your natural sleep/wake cycle is determined by your circadian rhythm, the internal 24-hour clock that governs when you are alert and when you are drowsy. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus controls this rhythm. Light also affects it because when it is dark around you, your hypothalamus signals the release of melatonin from your pineal gland, the hormone that helps us sleep. But beware, it also stops this release if it encounters light, so it is best to avoid putting lights on if you have to get up to pee in the night or you won't get back to sleep!
When we are sleep deprived (waves to fellow parents and insomniacs) we feel these peaks and troughs of energy more strongly, so take note! The average person is least active/most sleepy between 2 and 4am and between 1 and 3pm, siesta anyone? The night-time dip in energy is when your body is in hopefully a deep sleep, and remember sleep is not only good for general rest, but it is when your immune system works, and various hormone levels regulate different body functions. Without good sleep you will find you get ill more often, and more stressed. Long term night-shift workers have higher incidences of heart disease and cancer and this is all linked to them going against their body’s natural circadian rhythm. Just think about how you feel with jet lag or with a newborn baby even, regular sleep matters, the circadian rhythm is easily disrupted.
If you are well rested, you may not notice the dip in energy in the afternoon but if you are tired (like I always am thanks to my children preferring my bed to their own) then it can hit you like a ten-ton truck. It varies a little for me, but my worst time is usually between 3 and 6pm. I am virtually useless then. Since having children, I can barely string a sentence together in the late afternoon. Then later in the evening I usually have a spring in my step again and often go to a pole fitness or yoga class and benefit from the energy surge. Work wise, mornings are very productive but if I try and proofread or write in the afternoon it takes hours to do one measly paragraph, so I avoid it when I can or focus on simple admin tasks that need doing or sometimes I take a nap!
So, work out when you are most/least productive and tailor your working time accordingly. If you are brilliant in the mornings, then perhaps get up early and brainstorm or get started on a project and if you find late nights work for you then use them, but don’t do both… Make sure you schedule meetings for when you are most alert and try to avoid long drives if you know you will feel drowsy. Tune into your body and create a far more productive day!