When it comes to work, it’s safe to say that most people want to become a more productive person. Especially, it’s because 40 percent of the time we spend at work is unproductive.
This leads to us not only wasting time but also not finishing the goals or tasks we wanted to accomplish.
On the other hand we all know that one person, who is able to get way more done than everybody else, without being stressed or rushing to finish an assignment. How do they get it done?
Similarly you'll have questions like:
- How do you schedule your day for maximum productivity?
- Is a 40 hour work week too much?
- What is the most productive day of the week?
- How many productive hours is an 8 hour day?
Before we answer all of that, we must first understand the very thing that makes us who we are. Not only how we work but also how we live.
1. It begins with Chronobiology
According to Wikipedia, Chronobiology is a field of biology that examines periodic (cyclic) phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar- and lunar-related rhythms.
There's different circadian rhythms when we break our routine into the 24-hour day cycles:
- Diurnal - active during daytime
- Nocturnal - active in the night
- Crepuscular - active during the dawn and dusk hours
While these refer to all animals, it is relevant to us people/humans as we not only are awake during these cycles but also working.
Next is to understand your chronotype
A chronotype is your own personal biological clock that controls your body's rhythms—it's the reason you are grumpier in the morning or focus better later in the day.
While your chronotype is different based on your habits and how you were brought up, recent research has shown that it changes as you age.
It found that older participants preferred mornings and so did people who are more agreeable.
Understanding our chronotype helps us know the best time for coffee vs work vs exercise.
4 Different Chronotypes
According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, your unique wiring shapes your most energetic times of the day. He classifies it into 4 different
This type wakes up early with their eyes wide awak and are typically the go-getters but tend to fizzle out in the evening and turn in early.
This type sleep-wake patterns often follow the sun, and they have no difficulty sleeping. They are most ready for intense tasks smack in the middle of the morning, and they feel a dip in the mid-afternoon.
This type is the nocturnally active. They have a later start to the day and tend to be makers — writers, artists, coders.
This type is the light sleepers as they might struggle to fall asleep. They have a tendency toward perfectionism.
WANT TO KNOW YOUR CHRONOTYPE? Do this quiz to figure out your schedule
Based on your chronotype, drinking coffee at the wrong time will impact your productivity according to the research that looks at drinking coffee while staying awake.
2. Using social psychology
We know that each person has his or her own style of working.
You can see this at work or in coffee shops that some people just naturally gravitate to others and enjoy being in groups. While others are much more efficient if they work at home or in a quiet space.
Typically, we know that people fall into 2 groups:
- Introverted - how shy you are
- Extroverted - how outgoing you are
But in reality, it depends on where as psychologist Carl Jung, coined in the 1920s, calls energy or what gives you energy.
- Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
- Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
Jonathan Cheek, a Wellesley psychologist published a paper and found out there are actually four levels of introversion: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained.
- Social introverts most closely resemble the common understanding of introversion. They prefer to be alone or to socialize with small groups instead of large ones, however they are not shy and don’t feel anxious around others.
- Thinking introverts don’t share the aversion to social events, but they tend to get lost in their own thoughts. They’re introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective.
- Anxious introverts seek out solitude because they tend to feel awkward or self-conscious around others. And this anxiety doesn’t always go away when they’re alone. They tend to ruminate on things that might have or could have gone wrong.
- Restrained introverts think before they act. They move at a slightly slower pace, making sure every action is intentional and thought through.
According to a study published in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, there's good reason to believe there are two different types of extroverts, each with their own personality types that can be traced back to differences in their cerebral make-ups.
- Agentic extroverts are the go-getters. They are assertive, persistent, and achievement driven. They feel comfortable being in the limelight, raising their hand and take leadership positions when opportunities arise.
- Affiliative extroverts are the social butterflies. They are friendly, warm, and can easily break the ice with new people. Close relationships mean a lot to them and they tend to have a very large group of friends.
Ambiverts are right in the middle and they actually make up the majority of the population. According to Barry Smith, professor emeritus and director of the Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, “Ambiverts make up 68% of the population.”
As a result, the people with whom you spend time with whether you're talking to them or while working beside does impact your productivity.
WANT TO KNOW YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE WORK SCHEDULE? Do this audit to figure out your schedule
3. Designing Your Workspace
Workspace design is about creating a space that facilitates productive and purposeful work while leaving room for creativity, customization, and personalization. For some it's an office, for others it's their home desk or dining table.
There are plenty of interior design factors that contribute to a positive workspace that encourages productivity and purpose: lighting, color, plants, art, food, seating, etc.
Poorly-designed workspaces can have a huge effect on work, with 46% of professionals indicating that their existing workspace heavily impacted their productivity.
Few Factors that impact workspace productivity:
Noise is a serious detrimental factor to productivity and morale. If your workspace has been blessed by being located in a quiet neighborhood, outside noise is not a problem for you. If not, however, you might want to turn to some soundproofing solutions to reduce the distraction the surrounding traffic or nearby construction work creates. Noise-canceling headphones work well too, also for those employees who share their workspace but are distracted by others talking etc. This will not only impact your productivity but also what kind of work you can do at what times, such as conference calls or sales webinars. This will also impact your work hours.
Lighting is one of the strongest factors in creating an optimal office design. Lighting affects many aspects of work life, from productivity to mental health to workplace safety. Knowing the right kind of lighting to introduce to a space can make all the difference. Natural light is integral to your body’s circadian rhythm, improves your mood, and boosts Vitamin D. Warm light (like lamps) can be more calming and inviting while cooler light can reduce fatigue and encourage collaboration.
People are more productive when they can bring their full selves to the office. That goes for office decoration, clothing, and even desk trinkets. Make it easier to see your coworkers as individuals with their own identity, and build empathy by inviting them to bring their personality to their workspaces. It’ll decrease stress and help them feel more comfortable.
By combining all the 3 elements from your chronotype, your social habits and your workspace, you're all to create your most productive work schedule. Keep in mind that as you age your best work schedule changes as does your chronobiology. It's best to check in on your work output for your most productive work schedule.