So I don’t know about you guys, but when you’re working a full time job or you’re a full time student, finding the time in a day to create can become a tiring task. It feels like use all your brain power during the work day and you simply don’t have the mental capacity time, or even desire to create something new at the end of your day. If anything all you want to do is sleep or watch TV. Don’t worry, I’ve been there before. Now I honestly couldn’t figure out why it seemed I never had the energy. I mean I’m a teenager and according to my parents aren’t supposed to have an endless supply of that?
How was I ever going to #begreat if I couldn’t even think of any new ideas? Well, a couple weeks ago, I made a fabulous decision to study the science of timing this summer. My first step? Go to the library and check out a book. Point for analog methods of research! I ended up checking out “WHEN :The scientific secrets of perfect timing.” And what does that have to do with creative productivity? Apparently everything.
So maximizing your creative capabilities has a little something to do with self discovery. Chances are you’ve yet to realize how crucial your chronological pattern is to your thinking. You might know what you want to do, you might even know how you want to do it but knowing when you’re gonna do it, is just as, if not more important.
If I’ve learned anything from Daniel H. Pink’s research, it’s that the afternoons can be a very dangerous time for productivity. Apparently, most people reach their lowest points of productivity approximately 7 hours after they wake up. So if you know that you have to wake up at 7 am, don’t try to get your creative juices flowing at 2 PM. 2 PM to 4 PM is a Hazard zone for most adults. Regardless of whether you’re a Lark, third bird, or owl this time of the day seems to be a low point for everyone. But Imay be getting a bit ahead of myself.
Larks, third birds, and owls are 3 ways to define chronotypes. Larks, wake up early and experience a peak early on, followed by a troph and then a rebound. Third birds experience the same pattern, but a little bit later on. Owls experience this pattern in reverse. Owls tend to be teenagers or in their early 20s, who experience their analysis peak later on in the day.
So for the next week to figure out what time of the day is best for you to be brainstorming or creating, you’re gonna figure out whether your a lark, a third bird, or an owl.
So here’s what you need to do
Every 90 minutes, starting at 7 a.m., write down what you’re doing, your mental alertness, and your physical energy. And if you’re blessed enough to still be sleeping at 7 and 8:30 a.m, simply write down that you were sleeping when you do get up. The time you wake up and the time you go to bed says A LOT about your chronotype. Trust me though, there’s a major difference between waking up early because you want to and waking up early because you have to.
To figure out whether you’re a lark, third bird, or owl, you need to really assess how you feel at certain times throughout the day. You need to figure out when you feel the most alert as opposed to when you feel the most tired. Then construct your day around that knowledge. I’ll tell you what Daniel H. Pink told me through his book. Around 60 to 80% percent of the human population are third birds. This means that most of reach our analysis peaks around midmorning. Larks (aka early birds) typically reach their analysis peaks during early morning, and owls typically reach theirs during late afternoon and evening.
So if you have more taxing, strenuous work that you need to get done outside of your creative pursuits, I’d suggest getting those done during your analyis peaks. Or rather, if you have made a career centered around your creative endeavors, then use these analysis peaks as the time to steadily work through pre-established tasks and examine your business stats and industry trends. Once your guards come down during later times of the day (for larks and third birds), after your trough period of minimal productivity, get your creativity and innovation juices flowing. You’ll be more likely to allow distractions to spot connections you might have missed when all your senses were on top alert.
During your “recovery” period, you do best at insight work like brainstorming. For most of you, this recovery period will come around 4:30, while your lowest points come anywhere between 1:30 and 4:30. Thats up to you to analyze for this upcoming week. Most of you will spot this U-shaped trend throughout your day. About an hour after the midpoint of your day, you should start tackling your creative thought process. Don’t go at in the morning. By no means go at it, in the middle of your day. And don’t go at it at night. You brainstorm, you plan, and you create during the late afternoon and early evening. That will most likely be your formula for success.
Most of what I just said will be useless for you, if you analyze your week and realize that you’re an “owl.” Instead of experiencing your day as a peak, trough, and rebound, you’ll experience yours more as a recovery, trough, and peak. That means that you should tackle analytical tasks in the late afternoon and evening, and insight tasks in the morning. So create in the morning; not the afternoon, evening, or nighttime. It’ll feel more natural and you’re brain will thank you. Easy enough right?
If you want a downloadable pdf to track your alertness and energy on, head on over to http://www.danpink.com/chapter1supplement. If not, just write it down and check back here to see what your results mean. Make sure to share what you find out in the comments!
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