Your Body Clock: For Everything, There is a Time

Body ClockBody clock.  You’ve probably heard the term, but have you thought about what it really means?  Your body clock is real, and its rhythms have a very real impact on your energy and productivity.

I recently read a fascinating post on the Buffer Blog by Belle Beth Cooper titled “Why most Olympic records are broken in the afternoon: Your body’s best time for everything.”  It takes the idea of the body clock and fleshes it out in a way that is both thought-provoking and offers some very practical, actionable tips.

Your Body Clock

As it turns out, each of our bodies has a very precise sense of time – and our bodily functions are calibrated to occur in sync with that sense of time.  However, external pressures and responsibilities override our body clocks more often than not.  Indeed, the demands of our daily lives generally leave us unaware of that internal clock – and this is to our own detriment.

The BBC on the Body Clock

This episode of the BBC’s “Horizon” takes an in-depth look at the in’s and out’s of the body clock …

The Body Clock and Your Work

I was fascinated to read about the impact of my body clock on the best time to eat, sleep, exercise, etc.  And perhaps most interesting to me was its impact on our work rhythms.  As it turns out, working at peak times (in terms of energy) isn’t always the best thing:

Circadian rhythms really affect how we work as well. So we all have peaks and troughs in our physical and mental capacity to get work done. And the type of work we’re doing makes a difference to which time of the day we should choose to do it in. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • If you’re a morning person you’ll want to favor the morning hours. When you’re feeling fresh, aim to get your most demanding work done. Your brain solves problems, answers questions and makes decisions best when you’re at your peak.
  • According to Scientific American:
    • Numerous studies have demonstrated that our best performance on challenging, attention-demanding tasks—like studying in the midst of distraction—occurs at our peak time of day. When we operate at our optimal time of day, we filter out the distractions in our world and get down to business.
  • If you’re a night owl, you’ll aim for a later period in the day.
  • Interestingly, if you’re trying to do creative work, you’ll actually have more luck when you’re more tired. This sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense when you look at the reasoning behind it. It’s one of the reasons why great ideas often happen in the shower after a long day of work.
    • If you’re tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on a particular task. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. These are both good things when it comes to creative work, since this kind of work requires us to make new connections, be open to new ideas and think in new ways. So a tired, fuzzy brain is much more use to us when working on creative projects.

How is this for you?

Have you noticed the impact of your body clock on your energy levels and productivity?

I’d suggest that you ‘listen’ to what your body tells you, and track your energy levels for a month or so.  This will give you insight into your own, unique body clock.  The more you can work in sync with it, the more productive you’ll be.

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