Is your body rhythm trying to tell you something? Is it sometimes shouting at you to slow down or get going?
Work with Your Energy Cycle.
Your body has natural rhythms called energy cycles. You have heard people say, “I’m a morning person.” “I’m a night owl.” Throughout your day (or night), your energy level cycles up and down. When your energy cycle is up, you are at your peak of accomplishment. When it’s down, your body wants to rest and restore itself. Maximizing your peak cycles will gain you better productivity. Instead, if you try to force your cycle into another pattern like you might have in your college days studying for a test, you may be productive short-term, but that high energy will not last. Paying attention to your energy cycle will allow you to consistently perform at your peak over long periods of time.
Discover your energy cycle by planning it out. Learn your energy cycle patterns. As you are plotting your energy cycle, be aware of your eating and drinking behaviors. If you write this down over a few days, you will discover your pattern. Knowing your pattern is a huge benefit because you can plan your work and your meetings accordingly. If you have a very important meeting with a client, for example, you want that meeting held in your peak time, not when you are trying to stifle a yawn. If you have a complicated project to work on, you want to be at your peak performance.
Your Down Cycle.
When you are in a down cycle, you should avoid powering through it if you can. Those down cycles can create problems for you, because, as that task-oriented entrepreneurial personality, you want to get more done. Those times are the danger zones for eating, drinking, or taking medications to stimulate yourself and try to trick your body into working longer. Instead, try taking a walk, using your relaxation techniques, or even taking a short nap. Your energy can be restored, and then you will be ready for your high energy cycle time.
Draw Your Own Energy Cycle
Draw your line that starts at the beginning, starting at your typical get-out-of-bed time. Draw a line that mirrors your high and low periods during the day until bedtime. Maybe you are a night owl – and work best at night. Your line would show higher energy during those night hours. This timeline shows a person who gets sleepy right after lunch. If you find yourself with a dip during the day, recognize it when it hits and give into it. Take a break. Take a walk – farther than the refrigerator.
Time Zone Differences.
Maybe you live on the west coast, but your primary client is on the east coast, so your work schedule follows west coast time for availability – different from west coast time – but you are marking your energy cycles against your time zone. You have to have higher energy at 5 AM west coast time because your client starts at 8 AM east coast time. Your energy cycle needs to start at 4 AM west coast time.
Can You Fool Your Energy Cycle?
This may sound crazy, but I think you can. I have done seminars coast-to-coast for many years. For example, I flew from San Diego to Boston or Miami and had to be up and scintillating first thing in the morning on east coast time.
My secret was to think on the time zone I was in. Let's say I landed at 5 PM and was at the hotel by 6:30 PM eastern time. What time was it for me at Pacific time? 3:30 PM. But I didn't think that way. I reset my watch for 6:30 PM and that's how I operated.
After I checked out the training room, I was in bed and asleep by 9 PM eastern time because I had to get up early to open the boxes and set up the training materials.
I did it this way for 30 years, and it worked. Think on the time zone you are in. Try it! It may take a couple of tries, but it's better than dragging yourself through the next day!
Are You a Slow Starter?
Maybe you are a slow starter in the morning and need two hours before your workday starts. You may have to be starting at 3 AM to accommodate for the early call with your client. Your natural energy cycle when you get up is lower until you are functioning at your higher energy perk. When you give yourself the wakeup lag, you are going to be at a higher peak for your client call at 5 AM.
Establish a Routine.
A routine should be a productive one that benefits you the most and will allow for the greatest productivity. For example, since 3 PM is my low energy, lag time, I am better to do the less critical, more routine tasks. You could even put it on your calendar. Establishing a routine need not be a strict schedule that nothing interrupts. We all know that is not possible.
If you use your low energy cycle for responding to social media, doing your research, and other low energy tasks, you can better avoid performance load. Performance load occurs when your plate is so full that you are juggling too many tasks at once. Your performance can decrease because the load is simply too much. Handling too many tasks is not sustainable over a long period of time, and mistakes will happen. Balls will get dropped. If you do not set a limit or stop when you know too many balls are in the air, your available energy will be gone. When you know you are approaching rust out, you also know burn out is not far behind.
I find a routine helps, even in setting a time to retire to bed at night. Since I’m up between 5:30 and 6 in the morning, but night I am dog tired. I can push it until I am beyond tired or do the smart thing which is to go to bed at 8 PM and read a fun, take-me-away book for 30-45 minutes. If I follow this routine, I am much more likely to bound out of bed at 6 AM!