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Workday Optimization

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Workday Optimization

Use this Framework to help your team use science to super-power their daily schedule.

đź“— Framework details

As a leader and manager of people, you want to maximize your team’s productivity without micromanaging their schedule. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a few simple rules of thumb, rooted in science, for how to direct your team to optimize their productivity without keeping the gas pedal down all day long?

Well, thanks to sleep researcher Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, we now have a clear understanding of why it’s hard to sustain intense focus for prolonged periods and how to schedule our day for peak performance.

Over 50 years ago, Dr. Kleitman discovered the basic rest-activity cycle. He found that humans sleep in 90-minute cycles and that during the day, every 90-minutes, our bodies move from higher to lower levels of alertness. These recurrent 90-minute cycles are called ultradian rhythms.

Ultradian rhythms are mini-versions of our circadian rhythm, our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, except that they are much shorter and occur many times during the day. These rhythms profoundly impact our decision-making, energy level, alertness, and ultimately our productivity!

During each 90-minute ultradian cycle, your alertness or arousal level increases until you reach an ultradian peak. This is when you are the most productive. Following the peak, there is a natural decrease in alertness, followed by an ultradian trough.

So how can you take advantage of this natural biological process to improve the effectiveness of your team? Help your team plan their day in 90-minute sprints, followed by 20-minute breaks.

Wait, did you say 20-minute break?

Yes, and during this time, your employees should be allowed to disconnect from work altogether. This brief rest period will recharge their biological engines, enable them to recover from the previous sprint, and prepare them for the next one

đź“— Next steps

  • Take this time to understand how you and your team can use this Framework to optimize your workday.

  • If you decide to share this Framework with your team, schedule a time to meet with your team to discuss how they can optimize their work schedule.

  • Make sure to update any shared calendars if needed, and to follow up about this commitment during your weekly 1-on-1s.