How to Achieve More By Knowing Your Chronotype
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Do you ever get your second wind of energy after 10:00 p.m.? Do you chat all morning long and experience a crash in the afternoon? Have you noticed when your mind is the most focused and decision-making comes easy because it feels like you're in flow? That's because our most productive times depend on our personal chronotype.
A chronotype is basically a person's natural body clock and their level of alertness throughout the day. It's broken down into four styles: the lion, the dolphin, the wolf and the bear. Understanding how these different styles work will help you clearly map out your goals and plan your day accordingly. Being able to identify another individual's chronotype will also make you a more effective leader, as you will be able to get the best out of your team using this insight.
The lion is up at the crack of dawn and ready to take on the day. We usually call these people "early birds." Lions typically have more energy in the first half of the day, so it's crucial for them to get their most important tasks done before lunch and save the lighter, mindless tasks for the afternoon.
In order to maintain and preserve their energy for later on in the day, a full night's sleep must be a top priority for this chronotype. Knowing when to have downtime to unwind at the end of the day is very important; this is imperative charging time for the lion.
A productive schedule may look like this: Wake up at 6:00 a.m., focus time occurs between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and asleep by 10:00 p.m.
A dolphin's brain is always on and overthinking, so it's hard to schedule focus time because it comes in random bursts throughout the later afternoon. This is because a dolphin is typically an insomniac or a problem sleeper. Due to having an altered sleeping pattern, this can often mean that they need to take breaks throughout the day to reset and recharge. It's best to be off technology a half hour before sleeping, because it really messes with a dolphin's ability to naturally switch off.
A dolphin's productive schedule may look like this: Wake up by 6:30 a.m., focus time occurs between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and asleep by 11:30 p.m.
There are some individuals that focus better in the second half of the day, and you may have heard them refer to themselves as a "night owl." This is because the most creative or sharpest thoughts come out when others are beginning to settle for the day. Knowing this means that a wolf should try to avoid scheduling highly creative, difficult, important tasks or meetings first thing in the day. A wolf will thrive better in the later afternoon for these types of things.
A wolf's productive schedule may look like this: Wake up by 7:30 a.m., focus time occurs between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and asleep by 12:00 a.m.
The bear generally rises and falls with the sun and takes a couple of hours to completely wake up. They generally ease into the day. Mid-morning is the most productive time, so the most important tasks and decisions should be made with this in mind. A bear's easiest tasks are best left for the early afternoon.
A productive schedule for this chronotype may look like this: Wake up by 7:00 a.m., focus time occurs between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and asleep by 11:00 p.m.
Related: 20 Ways To Boost Your Energy At Work
Chronotypes may change
At different stages of your life, your chronotype can change. As a teenager, through university and early stages of motherhood, I was definitely a wolf. I would excel in the evenings when everyone was asleep, and I had that alone time to be able to clear my thoughts, concentrate and execute. However, now that I'm at a different stage with my family and business, I've naturally evolved into a lion.
So take on the mindset that you cannot always do what others do. It's just a matter of finding your personal pattern that allows you to shine. The end goal may be similar but the map to getting there will be different for each person. Use the road that works best for you.