Doing things at the right time

As humans we have the ability to override our body clocks, yet we do this at the peril, not just of our work life balance, but the balance and well being of our bodies.

Modern life places demands on us that in many cases overrides our natural energy cycles. We are expected to stick rigidly to working hours, to perform at peak during all of this time, and the question as to whether we are naturally “larks” or “owls” is largely ignored. The situation is even worse for people that work shifts or travel extensively to different time zones.

A recent BBC documentary entitled “The Secret Life of the Body Clock” made interesting viewing. It revealed amongst other things that the best time for exercise is the early evening, the best time to learn is late afternoon and that we should all be taking “micro sleeps” after lunch. There are aspects of these rhythms that are common to us all, and aspects that are specific to our individual genetic makeup.

We don’t always have the ability to choose when to do things of course, but wherever we do it’s worth asking the question “when is the best time?”  If you are able to work in synchronicity with your body’s energy cycles it will pay dividends.

The best way to discover the pattern of your own cycles is to work at home for a period.  Amongst people I know who do, some work intensively early before breakfast, others in the early evening.  Some work continually, some take a long midday break.  It seems that the work-life balance of these people is not just improved simply because they’re working at home, but because they are able to match their working patterns to their own energy cycles.

If you don’t have the ability to work at home, you can still take some control. If you’re not a “lark” is making strategic decisions first thing in the morning the best time?  Can you find a way to do more repetitive straightforward tasks when you’re at your low energy point? Can you save creative tasks until you’re at your peak?

Time management usually focuses on how you should control your schedule to maximise your productivity, but it’s clear we should be taking more account of energy cycles. Work-life balance is undoubtedly achieved by working with our minds, bodies and emotions rather than working against them.

To contact Nick Woodeson, please email him at

For more information on the the human brain visit the MyBrain International web site.