WORKING IN YOUR OWN RHYTHM
Are you a lark or an owl? A dolphin or a bear? There are different names for people with different biorhythms.
Sleep researcher Dr. Michael C. Breus categorises them into four so-called chronotypes: lion, dolphin, wolf and bear. Chronobiologists like him are concerned with our internal clocks – and the effect they have on our individual and social lives. All bodily functions are governed by a particular cycle that varies with a 24-hour period, over months and years – and this applies to all living creatures. These days it’s increasingly rare for activity to be followed by a rest phase. The fact that performance, mood and tiredness change naturally and constantly is not taken into account either, unfortunately.
It’s only in the past few years that people have realised how their wellbeing changes if they orient their lives more towards the cycle of the seasons or their own biorhythms. Do you function better in the morning, or are you on top form in the evening? (There are various tests on the internet – for instance provided by the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, or Dr. C. Michael Breus – that you can use to work out which chronotype you are). It might be worth bearing in mind during the working day as well.
If you work from home or plan your own time, you’re free to bring your working rhythm completely into line with your biorhythm. But even if you have to be oriented to your family or fixed working hours, you can still organise your tasks so they’re aligned with the appropriate phases. In that situation, it’s worth being aware of your own performance curve so you can plan tasks accordingly.
If you’re familiar with your performance curve and know when to expect phases of productivity and concentration, you can adapt your working routine in line with those parameters. Schedule important projects for a time when you’re at your most efficient. Jobs that need a lot of focus and attention are better performed in a high phase. There will also be low phases. You can use those for instance to take breaks or carry out routine tasks that don’t require such a level of efficiency: write your emails at lunchtime and turn your attention to routine jobs at times when you’re feeling less inspired. This time window is good for making phone calls as well. And last but not least: take note of your ideal sleep-wake rhythm. You work most efficiently when your body’s rested and your mind’s alert.
König + Neurath has spent decades learning about people’s working life in the office, and helps customers and partners achieve their goal of creating the ideal working environment for their employees. So an office that encourages efficiency not only features attractive zones for communication and inspirational meeting areas – but also spaces designed for focused work. The different phases need to be incorporated into individual workstation design as well, in order to accommodate biorhythms and working rhythms.