Between the workday, commutes, and social events, it’s incredibly hard to organise your life into a concrete schedule. However, the Wall Street Journal points to a growing amount of evidence that suggests that when you match your schedule to your body’s rhythm you’re far more efficient.
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Your body’s rhythms aren’t just about the amount of sleep you get. At different points in the day you’re better at cognitive work, more efficient at exercise, and even better at difficult conversations. The Wall Street Journal explains:
As difficult as it may be to align schedules with the body clock, it may be worth it to try, because of significant potential health benefits. Disruption of circadian rhythms has been linked to such problems as diabetes, depression, dementia and obesity, says Steve Kay, a professor of molecular and computational biology at the University of Southern California. When the body’s master clock can synchronise functioning of all its metabolic, cardiovascular and behavioural rhythms in response to light and other natural stimuli, it “gives us an edge in daily life,” Dr. Kay says.
Everyone’s body is a little different, and figuring out your own optimal times is tough. In a live chat with author Sue Shellenbarger, she offers this advice to track down your rhythms:
One way researchers determine this is to put people on a very regular schedule for a couple of weeks — get enough sleep, then start going to bed when you feel sleepy, getting up when it seems natural. If you aren’t sleep deprived and if your schedule isn’t disrupted by outside pressures (I know, l good luck setting this up! That’s why they do it in the laboratory!), your body will tell you when it peaks and when it needs rest. In my own case, cutting out coffee and eating regular meals also helps me tune into my own body clock.
If that sounds a bit unreasonable, you can also come up with a simple system to log your actions through the day. We’ve shown you how to do this for creativity, and the methodology can easily be applied elsewhere. You can also track everything you do throughout the day with this simple form to try and get a better idea of your peak times. You probably can’t control every single aspect of your schedule, but once you have a better idea of your peak times for different tasks you can at least attempt to work with it to improve your overall efficiency for the day. Head over to the Wall Street Journal for a full breakdown of the most common optimal times for different tasks for a majority of people.
The Peak Time for Everything [Wall Street Journal]