Ultradian Rhythm: The Secret to Unlocking Your Maximum Potential
Have you ever wondered what your maximum potential looks like?
You already work hard and have committed to a lifestyle of self-improvement, but could you go just a little bit further?
Many passionate professionals feel as if they have to push themselves as hard as possible throughout the work day (and sometimes even after hours) or else they will fall behind and their career will fall into shambles.
However, the truth is that those who "grind" all day every day are doing themselves a disservice in the long run.
The secret to unlocking your maximum potential, at work and elsewhere, is through something called ultradian rhythm or the 90-20 rule.
In brief, just like your body’s circadian rhythm or sleep cycle, your body also goes through a productivity cycle called the ultradian rhythm.
Ultradian rhythms are your body’s biological cycles that take place every 24 hours. It can include your heartbeat, blinking, breathing, digestion, and every other cycle your body participates in. Ultradian rhythms also control your level of productivity and maximum efficiency.
In this article, we will explain more about ultradian rhythms and how you can use them to improve your maximum productivity.
Ultradian Rhythms: How to Have a More Productive Workday
There are a few different kinds of ultradian rhythms, but the one we will be looking at today is specifically ultradian performance rhythms.
The ultradian performance rhythm found that when people work, they experience 90 minutes of productivity, after which they begin to crash and struggle to maintain focus. Many people try to “grind” through the lapse in attention, but that may be doing more harm than good.
All it takes is a 20-minute break for you to reset and begin another 90 minutes of productivity.
For this reason, many people refer to the ultradian performance rhythm as the 90-20 rule.
In their 2003 book, “The Power of Full Engagement,” performance psychologists Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz clarify the 90-20 rule.
Loehr and Schwartz write the following:
“Physiological measures such as heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension, and brain-wave activity all increase during the first part of the cycle—and so does alertness. After an hour or so, these measures start to decline. Somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes, the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery.”
So, how does this apply to your work day?
When you are sitting in your office, it is best to plan regular breaks every 90 minutes to prevent exhaustion and burnout. It can feel as if you are wasting valuable time, but getting up from your desk for 20 minutes to drink water, take a brisk walk, play a game of chess, or fill out a crossword puzzle, is tremendously effective at improving your productivity.
Of course, every person is different. You might find that your ultradian performance rhythm is closer to two hours of work and thirty minutes of rest. Or you might find that you are better with thirty minutes of work than a quick ten-minute rest.
Try the following exercise for better productivity:
Right now, find a piece of paper and a pen and break up your day into half-hour segments. Each half-hour, write down what you accomplished and your energy level. Follow your regular work routine throughout the day.
After your workday ends, review your breakdown. When did your energy levels decrease? When did you get the most work done?
You will likely notice that you can only keep high energy levels for three to four half-hour periods before you begin to lose steam. What was your response to losing energy? Did you take a break? Did you push through? How did your breaks affect your energy levels? Were longer or shorter breaks more effective for you?
If you are struggling to come up with firm results, try this exercise every day for a week, then next week repeat the same thing using the 90-20 rule.
Many people find that they get more done and leave work with more energy if they follow the 90-20 rule over “grinding” through work all day.
What works best for you? Do you do better with longer less-frequent breaks, or do you thrive with short breaks more often throughout your day?
Post this article on your LinkedIn page, share your results and encourage your peers and colleagues to do the same!
A More Productive Workday with Your Friends at Legend Web Works
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