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Biorhythm for Productivity tool


It’s worth considering your natural rhythms when writing your to-do list.

Human beings have circadian rhythms. We were designed for mental alertness in the morning and physical dexterity in the afternoon. That’s how our bodies work.

Instead of randomly tackling to-dos, Donna McGeorge, author of The 1 Day Refund: Take Back Time, Spend it Wisely, suggests breaking up the day into four quadrants, each lasting about two hours. And each quadrant can be an ideal time to tackling different types of work.

It can be challenging to change your default habits, like checking email first thing in the morning. Rather, glance at your inbox to make sure there isn’t an emergency that requires dropping everything. Then, later in the day, go back to your email to handle them.

“Scan for what’s come in, but resist the urge to respond until later in the day,” says McGeorge. “It’s a fallacy to say, ‘If I just get that out of the way, then I’ll be able to do great work and concentrate.'”

The next two hours of the day is the time to have one-on-one and team meetings around projects where you still need your smarts. Or, if a colleague needs input on a situation, late morning is a good time to schedule this conversation.

The two hours after lunch is ideal for low-impact and low-intensity tasks. These are things that you don’t think of as important but still have to be done, such as filing, reviewing reports, and processing your email.

The final quadrant of the day is when our mental agility and alertness drop, and is time to do low-impact, high-intensity work.

This is the time to wrap up your day, tidy up loose ends. Review the meetings and activities for the next day to complete quick preparation as needed.

This time can also be used to do things that will help your mornings go more smoothly, such as deciding and laying out what to wear or packing a lunch for you or your children.

“Rethink how you end your day. You’re setting yourself up for success for the first two hours of the next morning.” says McGeorge.

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