One of the things I’ve been working on lately is getting into the rhythm that works best with my body when it comes to productivity. This means working at times when I feel most alert, as well as paying attention to the lows — times when I might be better off taking a nap or heading out of the house to run errands rather than futilely trying to keep up with my work assignments.
Not too long ago, I ran across a cool infographic from I Love Coffee. This infographic takes information from scientific research and applies it to your work day to help you determine when to drink coffee:
The idea is that when you’re operating under “cortisol time,” you don’t actually need that cup of coffee, since you are naturally stimulated. It’s when that natural boost runs out that you need something to perk you up.
Liquid Stimulants and Productivity
I don’t actually drink coffee. Instead, I prefer a cacao drink that brews like coffee (I use a French press). Others may not drink coffee, but instead choose something like caffeinated soda or an energy drink. Whatever you decide, though, liquid stimulants can help you power through times when you feel your energy level flagging.
I’ve started using this chart to help me adjust my eating/drinking habits throughout the day. Of course, everyone is different, so you might not exactly match up with the times. But you get the idea.
I start my day with yoga, going through a few poses (it only takes a few minutes), which helps wake me up a little bit. Then I get right to tackling the inbox and some of the other first-of-the-day tasks I assign myself. Once I get through those, I might be flagging, so I go ahead and brew my cacao drink. (Hooray for dark chocolate, which is supposed to be reasonably healthy.)
Once I’ve had that bit of liquid refreshment, I’m usually good to go until lunchtime. Then I can eat my lunch. I try to include protein and complex carbs in my lunch, since those foods are considered a little healthier, and since they produce steady energy, rather than a quick rush. I’ve been trying to eat healthier snacks as well during the day, at other times when my energy starts to disappear.
I don’t actually drink energy drinks or soda. After that morning bit of cacao, I drink mostly water throughout the day. I usually have a glass of milk with my dinner, but other than that, I don’t usually drink much. This means that “coffee time” on the chart above is really more about taking a nap, doing something else — like exercising, relaxing, or running errands — until the “cortisol time” kicks back in, and I’m naturally ready for the next thing on my list.
I’ve also found that replacing “coffee time” with something else that is meant to be stimulating (like exercise or a power nap), does the trick just as well. So you don’t need the liquid stimulants if you have a backup stimulation plan.
Looking at my body’s rhythms and needs in this way has been a big help lately. I feel better, and I have been getting more done. I’ve been more productive, and happier with my life.
What do you think? Could this type of information help your productivity?