Do productive people have secrets that the rest of us need to know?

If you’ve studied personal or professional development, you probably realize that there are many tips and tricks you can apply to maximize your potential and increase your output.

Not all recommendations will work for everyone, of course. It’s important to discover what will benefit you, your life, and workstyle.

There is something, however, that is beneficial and effective for all of us.  The reason is it works in conjunction with our fundamental neurology and biochemistry.

It is the practise of scheduling your daily life and working hours according to your natural energy levels and rhythms.

Traditional workdays are typically 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a quick lunch and hurried coffee breaks thrown in on the fly. Does this sound like you or someone you know?

This approach is contrary to what we know about our brain health and how to support our cognitive functions. On top of that, it impedes the very outcomes we are looking for, such as accuracy, efficiency, and best results.

Ultimately, productivity can’t be, and should not be, forced. It is derived from an energy flow that we need to tap into and to optimize. Energy levels change throughout the course of the day. So, expecting ourselves to be ‘switched on’ non-stop for eight specific hours each day is not necessarily realistic or effective.

Plus, there are other factors, such as the season, climate, other life responsibilities, how much sleep we get, etc., that will impact our energy supply on a particular day and how well we can focus and produce.

When there is flexibility and options, we feel supported and safe to make choices that are in our best interest. This allows us to authentically align to the best practises in managing our tasks based on the energy and capacity we actually have available.

According to Nadia Kumentas (a Naturopathic Doctor and the vice president of MUSE, a meditation tool provider), in her 2022 Brain and Health Report, people with the highest self-reported brain health scores (including focus, memory, mood, sleep, productivity and creativity) are those who make minor lifestyle changes, such as adopting a non-linear workday.

This essentially means that they work when they are most productive. What a concept!

Realistically, people experience different energy and productivity levels at various times of the day. If you are an early riser and you have a greater supply of energy first thing in the morning, you would probably benefit from starting your day earlier than 9 a.m. If you wait to dive into more demanding tasks mid-way through the day, you are not making the best use of your time or energy supply. This will likely backfire, as you are likely to be less creative, productive or positive about your roles and tasks.

On the other hand, if you are a person who goes to bed late and prefers to sleep in, your most productive time of the day may be in the afternoon or evening. So, your mornings may require a slower start with less demanding activities, or perhaps a walk in nature, or a trip to the gym to get your energy flowing.

If you push yourself to work at times that are not optimal for you, this can lead to stress and tension which can have a ripple effect and consequently interfere with your mood, digestion, mental clarity, sleep quality and more.

Along with aligning your work in conjunction with your natural energy levels, it’s also important to incorporate regular breaks to reset and recharge, such as going for a walk, meditating, or socializing with a colleague or friend. The MUSE study also found that individuals who did this had better brain health and cognitive functioning.

Anything that gets you away from your work tasks and your tech device(s), while also changing up your scenery and gets you moving, are effective choices.

There is a reason that it has become common to refer to sitting as the new smoking. Too much of it is really not good for you or your ability to function effectively. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health by researchers at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health found that skipping on exercise in favour of sitting or lying down was linked to a decline in memory and thinking abilities.

If you work remotely, it may be easier to schedule your day according to your energy levels and to take breaks as needed. Or if you work on location or in an office, ideally your boss and work culture trust and encourage each individual to create practises and routines that serve their own productivity. This is much more beneficial than being buried in endless work that may keep them busy but not necessarily productive.

At the end of the day, the quality and quantity of results will reveal if a person’s approach is working or not. 

Is it time to listen to your body and energy levels, to support your personal wellness, brain health, cognitive abilities, and productivity?

To Your Fit Brain & Fit Life,