Every parent is a working parent. And a lot of us know sleep is important. We’ve heard about the different types of sleep cycles that we go through (ideally) several times a night, but did you know that research has shown that there are also natural cycles during the day as well?
Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to notice– we just compensate by grabbing a sugary snack or another caffeinated drink to get through the 3 o’clock slump.
In a recent book called “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working”, author Tony Schwartz tells about an experiment where researchers watched to see when people naturally want to rest each day. Guess when it happens? Can you say, “Siesta”—between 1 and 4 pm every day.
If a nap is out of the question, read on for some things you can do to replenish your energy during the day and throughout the week.
One of the most memorable things Schwartz says is, “Rather than running like computers at high speeds for long periods, we’re at our best when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy.”
Schwartz points to specific research by Anders Ericsson and his team at Florida State University that found. “Great performers…work more intensely than most of us do but also recover more deeply. Solo practice undertaken with high concentration is especially exhausting, The best violinists figured out, intuitively, that they generated the highest value by working intensely, without interruption, for no more than ninety minutes and no more than 4 hours a day.”
What we can do DAILY:
*Work for no more than 90 minutes at a time on intense, more high-demand tasks and then take short breaks- go for a walk, breath deep or just do something different.
*Do your most demanding, top priority item first thing each day when your energy is highest.
*Pick certain times each day when you turn off your email and your cell phone in order to fully focus and to really unplug.
What we can do WEEKLY:
*Tackle your most challenging issues on Tuesday and Wednesday, which studies show are our highest energy days.
*Save your planning, reading, creative and more relational activities for Friday- right before you head into the weekend when you are most tired from a long week.
*Plan ways during your weekends to get longer times doing things that recharge you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What one thing do you want to try next week to see if it helps you achieve a more healthy rhythm of work and rest?
Put it to the test- commit to focusing on one thing at a time for 90 minutes and see if you get more done in a few of these more intense cycles (adding up to just 4 total hours of work) with breaks in between- compared with what you used to get done in a whole day!