How the Time of Day Can Impact Your Work

Mark Twain famously said to eat a live frog first thing in the morning and then be assured nothing worse would happen to you that day. While this is not exactly the most appetizing image, the concept of getting your most difficult task done early is based on basic physiological principals. We each have biorhythms which ebb and flow in 3 to 4 hour cycles as our waking day progresses. Although we may be groggy when we first tumble out of bed, by the time we are dressed and headed out our brain chemicals will be flowing at their peak rate. This is the time to tackle the most challenging tasks you have on the list (i.e. eat the frog).

As the day progresses these brain chemicals slowly get used up, and by about mid-morning we are in need of a little energy. This is the origin of the concept of a coffee break. Once refueled with some energy, the ability to concentrate returns and we can again be quite productive through lunchtime. Then the typical biorhythm causes a drop in the chemical level, and even with a nice pile of calories to fuel the body, a slump will occur. There is a reason we tend to nod off in those after lunch meetings, and it’s not just because of how boring the topic or speaker may be.

About mid-afternoon another peak of brain chemicals occurs and the pace of work can be high for a few hours. In most people, they will experience the same slump around dinner and peak an hour or two later making early evening a very productive time personal and social tasks. As we approach bedtime, those brain chemicals drop off once again to enable sleep. Another peak even occurs while we are asleep, and those who can push themselves past the bedtime slump may experience another high productivity time about 1 to 2 hours after normal bedtime as this peak is not dependent on being asleep or awake. Another down cycle will occur before the up-and-at-em morning peak; this down cycle corresponds to the deep sleep period of our nightly cycle and is when most of the body’s resting occurs. If you try to push to stay awake through it, there can be negative effects on your bio-cycles for the next few days.

By using this knowledge of the body’s biorhythms, you can plan the best times to complete different tasks. This will increase your productivity and make the work day more

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