How to Become More Productive

Biological prime times are the key.

A woman takes a break from work to mediate and regain energy.

(fizkes /

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Everyone has their own unique times of peak performance during the day. 

These periods are called “biological prime time,” a term first coined by Sam Carpenter, author of Work the System. According to Carpenter, you can discover exactly when your energy peaks and when you should rest and refresh your body for the next surge. This knowledge may help you improve your productivity, efficiency, and health.

Many are familiar with the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour clock of wakefulness and sleep. Within the circadian rhythm is an ultradian rhythm, 90 to 120-minute bursts of focused energy, according to MindBodyGreen. During this time, the body signals rest time with a yawn, a wandering mind, or a desire to stretch and eat. Now you know that it is time to take a 15-minute break.

Most people have two long surges of energy each day, according to UpStartist. The first is from 8 am for four to five hours, while the second is from 5 to 10 pm. Early to mid-afternoon is less productive, with 3 to 4 pm being the sleepiest time of day. The idea is to precisely locate your most productive hours.

Your ultradian rhythm is not one-size-fits-all, according to time management coach Dan Silvestre’s website. Silvestre suggests finding your precise biological prime times may even change your life!

To do this, he recommends that you track your time for three weeks. A few days before starting, cut out coffee, alcohol, and other stimulants or depressants that you may be taking. You will need a notebook or a spreadsheet to get started. There are also energy tracker apps you can download.

When you are tracking, stick to your regular daily schedule as much as you can. To begin, every hour on the hour, assign a number from one to ten that rates your energy level (one is lowest energy, with ten being the highest rating of energy).

You will soon become aware of when your focus starts to wane. This is time to take a break and recharge your battery. Silvestre suggests these are great opportunities to meditate, stretch, go into nature, watch an inspirational video, or clean up. If you are at the office and cannot get out, this may be a good time to check emails and read.

Food can also influence productivity according to A Life of Productivity. Be attentive to what you are eating; some foods may give you a spike followed by a crash in energy. Schedule naps when your energy dips and make the most of your surges. If, for example, you have a surge at noon every day, postpone lunch until you have an energy dip. If, at the end of the day, you are feeling tired, sip a lightly caffeinated green tea to give you a small boost.

Applying your biological prime time can be a game-changer. Your body knows best, so when you start to yawn or fidget at your desk, take note. Take a deep breath, relax, and allow your body to heal and repair. Work smarter, not harder. Your mind will be grateful and your boss most thankful.

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