It’s not the amount of hours we work but the value we bring to those hours.
We can learn to optimize peak performance by becoming congruent with our natural rhythms. This isn’t always easy because it requires that we schedule our priorities and not prioritise our schedule.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is we see our daily ‘to-do list’ as an opportunity to take more action, to do more.
However busyness doesn’t mean effectiveness and having a to-do list can be a common pitfall to performance. Being productive requires us to get the right things done, with the least amount of distraction and with the most amounts of mental alertness and physical reserve, would you agree?
Unprecedented demand on our capacity to perform means now more than ever we must learn to work smarter not harder. Like a mountain climber adjusting to the air pressure; while he is able to adapt, it can only be prolonged for so long until chronic exposure to a low-grade stress environment begins to take its toll of wear and tear on the body.
The 24hr period of a day is known as a circadian rhythm, which mirrors our annual seasonal patterns.
It’s like an internal body clock. It affects many physiological processes in the body, which is why you are more mentally alert at 11am as opposed to 11pm. What happens in summer is completely different to the processes of winter. The sun plays a powerful factor in peak performance as it governs specific hormones in the body.
When we work out of harmony with this cycle we place unwanted demand on our mental, emotional and physical processes, which equals hormonal deregulation and increased allostatic load on the brain causing an imbalance in our sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous systems.
Stress expressed by a chronic elevated SNS system, which should naturally decrease as the day unfolds, is the response to pressure suffered for a prolonged period of time. For example, executing tasks in the wrong part of the day, working late into the evening, downing a few stimulants and becoming counterintuitive to this natural cycle. This will cause us to experience physical and psychogenic signs and symptoms that subdue peak performance.
It is important to achieve congruency with our spring /summer phases and autumn/ winter phases, as they both serve to balance the nervous system, just as the seasons regulate the planet.
Consistent with our internal body clock, our parasympathetic nervous system should begin to increase in the afternoon and evening, which is symbolic of the autumn and winter seasons. In this phase we become limited in output and capacity as we begin the process of winding down, to inwardly renew our mental and physical resources and await to expend the next morning through to noon, symbolic ‘spring’ and ‘summer’ seasons.
- Try mirroring this model within your own day; notice the effects on your performance, physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Practice getting up earlier, rather than working late to get things done.
- Get clear on your priorities (I use the ABCDE method of prioritization for this) and execute mid morning when we are most mentally alert and physiologically sound, to have the edge on our activity.