Would you like to know the best time of day to tackle specific types of work activities? Then listen in to what Dr Amantha Imber has to say…
It’s 9am and you kick off your working day with a quick check of your emails and your daily (perhaps virtual?) meeting with your team. You hear about what your colleagues are up to then get back to your inbox, which has built up overnight.
During the last two years of the pandemic, you probably developed a slightly unhelpful habit of checking the news throughout the morning too, waiting for your local site to release the day’s case numbers. But, of course, you get sucked into several other headlines and before you know it, it’s time for a morning tea break.
What you probably didn’t and don’t realise at the time is that you have potentially just wasted your peak brainpower time with non-challenging and non-impactful tasks.
But is this the case for everyone? How do we know when the best time of day is for us as an individual to undertake different types of work activities?
Well, the answer lies in working to our chronotype (the natural peaks and troughs of our energy levels over a 24-hour period) and these can be defined as follows:
Larks, who you might think of as stereotypical morning people
Larks represent around 16% of the population and they should schedule their most cognitively demanding work for early in the morning.
The other extreme are the Owls
As the name suggests, Owls have their cognitive peak at night and are best served working on less cognitively demanding work during the day. You represent around 20% of the population.
Somewhere in between are the Middle Birds
The rest of us follow the rhythms of a Lark, albeit delayed by an hour or two. If you wake naturally at around 7 or 7.30am, you are probably a Middle Bird and your best thinking happens before lunch.
All chronotypes have a dip in energy after lunch for a couple of hours. Here, schedule work that is less cognitively demanding, like checking emails or doing team updates and work in progress meetings.
Larks and Middle Birds have a rebound in energy in the late afternoon – but it’s here that Owls start to enter their peak brain power time.
Unsurprisingly, scientists have found that matching your work schedule to your body’s natural 24-hour energy cycle is enormously beneficial to improving productivity. So…
- Assess your chronotype to determine when you should be doing work that requires the heaviest lifting.
- Schedule your most challenging tasks for when your brain is at its peak.
- Do easier tasks when your brain is having a dip in energy.