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How to Be More Productive at Work in One Easy Step

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You’ve probably heard of circadian rhythms, the 24-hour body clock that regulates when you sleep and wake. But now, researchers have discovered another timing system: ultradian rhythms, which regulate your energy and ability to focus throughout the day. (And, yes, Winter Weather Affects Your Focus too.)

Utradian rhythms operate on a much shorter cycle than circadian rhythms—anywhere from 90 minutes to four hours—and are thought to be controlled in part by your dopamine levels. New research indicates that mental health conditions like depression and bipolar disorder may be related to disruptions in these ultradian rhythms; people with bipolar disorder, for example, may experience cycles that extend to 12 or more hours.

But tapping into your ultradian rhythms is beneficial even for those without such disorders. The idea is that your productivity levels naturally fluctuate according to these cycles, so syncing your work to these natural spikes and dips can help you get more done with less effort. (Learn 9 “Time Wasters” That Are Actually Productive.) 

One easy way to do this, as reported by energy expert Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Product and author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working: Break up your work sessions into 90-minute blocks, and punctuate each chunk with a short break. (While you’re resting, try these Yoga Poses to Help You Focus.) The strategy helps you take advantage of your “peak” times, when you’re feeling most awake, and lets you recuperate when your energy takes a dive.

Interested? Learn more about The Best Time to Do Everything based on your body clock.

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