Posted by: Kathleen Mix | February 18, 2014

Making the most of your Circadian Rhythm

Like most of you, when I sit down to complete any task, I want to accomplish as much as possible in whatever time slot I’ve carved out of my busy day. Lately, I’ve been trying to improve my writing productivity and reduce the time from start to completion of a manuscript. To that end, I’ve been noticing my circadian rhythm.
Human circadian rhythms are the rise and fall of physical and mental performance levels over the course of a day. Scientists have found the average person has their lowest level of performance in the wee hours of the morning and peak levels in the late afternoon. But everyone has his or her own unique rhythm that may be the complete opposite. A morning lark will accomplish more by waking with the roosters. A night owl does his best writing when the rest of the household is asleep. And we can accomplish more if we’re aware of when we should dig in or walk away.
To improve my performance and make the most of my creativity, I decided to track when I was most productive for several weeks. I’ve discovered I write best in the morning, but not extremely early. If I sit down to write at eight a.m. with a clear idea of where my story is going, I can produce a significant number of pages before two p.m. My brain is sluggish when asked to work with individual words and sentences in the late afternoon; those are my best hours to plot, outline, or work on a synopsis. As the day progresses, my concentration moves outward from details. My best ideas for titles, themes, and overall concepts come late at night or while I lie in bed, just before I fall asleep.
This information has helped me plan my work better. I can schedule my time based on the type of task I need to complete.
Anyone who wants to be more productive in any aspect of their life needs to, as much as possible, match their work schedule to their individual rhythms. By studying our internal clocks, we can discover when we’re most likely to be successful at whatever we strive to accomplish.
If your passion is to write, find a few minutes before you leave home for your day job, on your lunch hour, after work, or after the kids have gone to bed. Pick your most productive time. Whether you’re a lark or an owl, good luck.

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