Monday, March 17, 2008

Chronobiology

This is from The Smart Women's Guide to the Simple Life-- newletter I receive. It's a great article about following (and trusting) own own body's clock--


Gretchen Roberts writes:

Some of you know you're night owls or morning people, but I've never had a sense of that myself. But once I figured out what was my best time--those morning hours from 8 to 12--and began using them only to write and do other difficult creative tasks, my productivity increased. I now know that I can work dedicated mornings and get more done than if I worked all afternoon and into the night, simply because I'm taking advantage of my own chronobiology.

Chronobiology is a somewhat new science that studies the rhythms of the body, its cycles and mechanisms. If you can tap into your own ideal body clock, you can use your natural rhythms to work smarter.

Marcia Conner, an author and educator, wrote a fascinating article for Fast Company that's unfortunately no longer online, but the gist is this: she divides time into three divisions: Brain, Body, and Butt. Brain time is when you make important decisions, write complicated reports, learn difficult concepts, and dazzle others with your brilliance. Most people have Brain Time in the morning.

Body Time is after lunch. You're languid, maybe tired, and your mental capacity seems to be temporarily shot. Use this time to do physical tasks--walk the dog, file papers, clean the kitchen, sort the mail.

Butt Time is time for meetings. You're not sleepy, but not brilliant either. By 4 p.m., Conner says, you'll be ramping up for some more brain time. These cycles repeat, which explains why some people say they work best at night: by midnight their brain gears are firing away again.

Of course not everyone has so much control over her daily schedule that she can reorganize the day around body rhythms, but if you do, I encourage you to try it. It's made such a difference to me: not taking calls in the morning so I can write, saving piddly tasks for afternoon, all leads to one thing: less time at the desk and more time with my family. Now that's smart.

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