It All Comes Down to Timing
Anyone who’s made a desperate attempt to change their schedule has heard about diurnal and nocturnal rhythms, and circadian cycles. What you may not know is that our daily biorhythms follow much more complex patterns than simple light and dark, day and night. It’s more complicated than even seasonal changes.
Throughout a single day our bodies undergo a number of fascinating changes; understanding these changes can help you plan your life to get the most out of each and every day. In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel Pink shares a deeper understanding of how our daily energy levels impact our successes and failures.
Understand Peaks, Troughs, and Rebounds
In 2011, sociological research using social media for a base data set uncovered cycles of positive and negative energy. These cycles indicated that morning is when your positive energy rises to a peak, before beginning to decline into a trough toward afternoon. These patterns were universal across demographics with very few rare outliers, showing a biological and potentially social linkage so overwhelming it borders on the zeitgeist.
The pattern continues into the early evening, after which a rebound occurs that restores positive feelings, energy, and calm. While energy levels may not be as high as the morning peak, it’s still an uplift from the afternoon trough. This uplift tends to carry you through until time for bed.
Exercise Good Judgment
While we’d all like to think we can be objective no matter our mental, physical, or emotional state when we’re tired, upset, or suffering from a depressed nervous system that impacts our judgment in telling ways. The best time to make crucial decisions is during the morning peak when your positive outlook and critical thinking skills are at an all-time high. Take advantage of these moments of clarity to assess your choices and make analytical, logical choices.
Time Your Crucial Tasks
If you’ve ever wondered why people from countries that take afternoon siestas seem to be healthier and more content, there’s a reason. When you work with your peaks, troughs, and rebounds rather than trying to reshape them, you can maintain a strong mental balance that creates a positive advantage in your life.
Work your schedule around your rhythms. Save important decisions and any work requiring intensive mental energy for the morning. Relegate menial, thoughtless, repetitive tasks to the afternoon – or take a break and steal a nap if you can.
Avoid scheduling important meetings after lunch, and instead, hold them either in the morning or over dinner. Use the harmony and peace of the evening rebound to pursue creative passions. Perfect the timing that drives your life, and maximize what you get out of each day.
Know Your Type
Not everyone follows this exact pattern. While most of us are sun-seekers, chasing the light and following a diurnal rhythm, some of us evolved to stand the night guard as nocturnal people who thrive best after dark. For night owls, your rhythms follow the same pattern but are often shifted. Experiment with your sleep patterns to discover when you’re most alert and active, and adjust to suit your style.
One of the worst things you can do is try to power through a trough through sheer willpower alone. You’ll frustrate yourself, and possibly make decisions you’ll regret. Rather than stubbornly telling yourself that you’re the exception from the rule, instead learn to work with your natural rhythms. Timing is a science, and when you apply these scientific principles to your life you can completely reshape how you handle time management.
For more tips on hacking your life through the science of perfect timing, check out this CBS News interview with Daniel Pink. Integrate these tricks into your life and apply proven knowledge to give your daily productivity a boost. Want more life hacks? Try our list of brain hacks that undo the common lies that negatively impact your life.