Your “biological prime time” is the time of the day when you have the most energy, and therefore the greatest potential to be productive.
Productivity is a highly individual thing – a get-stuff-done strategy that works flawlessly for one person may do nothing for you. You are probably already aware that your energy, concentration and focus levels fluctuate throughout the day. If you are an early bird, for example, you have more energy in the morning and experience a decline as the day progresses. The opposite occurs for the night owl. For the night owl, alertness levels are low in the morning and start to increase in the afternoon, reaching its peak during the evening.
There has been a mountain of research that has been conducted on this area. Sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman noticed a pattern in the human body called the Ultradian Rhythm. The Ultradian Rhythm is a recurrent cycle that our bodies go through each day. The results of this research show that the human body goes through cycles of between 90-120 minutes. Through each of these cycles we are taken from an unproductive trough, to a productive peak and then back again.
Personally, I find myself being most productive on Tuesdays mid-morning and mid-afternoon. I find it difficult to dive straight into work first thing so I generally ease my way in to work by checking emails and work updates. Once I have gotten my brain warmed up, which is usually at about 11 am, I am ready to get to work. Between 11-1pm, I am usually ‘in the zone’ and get a lot of work done.
I discovered this about myself after reading Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of making more and Working Less by Sam Carpenter. In this book, Sam Carpenter zeroes in on what he calls his “biological prime time”. This bombastic term, essentially means the peak performance points of the day where an individual is at his or her most productive. The methodology is simple. You start by paying attention to three things; your productivity, focus and motivation. Every hour or two, you rate each on a scale from 1 -10 – people often use Microsoft excel to log their scores however making simple notes in your workbook or journal is just as effective. After a week or so, you can create a simple graph and start identifying trends. Whenever your productivity, focus and motivation align at a high point, you have found your “biological prime time”. By tracking the natural ebbs and flows of your energy. you are able to get a more accurate picture of how much energy you naturally possess and how you typically portion that energy out.
Discovering your biological prime time can have a host of benefits. By pinpointing those sweet spots, you can allocate your most important tasks or meetings for those times. That way, you are at your best during the critical moments and can channel those windows of focused productivity into high-priority projects. You can also use your findings to establish links between your energy level and other variables such as your diet, sleeping habits and work environment. This will allow you to tweak your daily habits and increase productivity.
Another great book which discusses the “biological prime time” theory is The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey.