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WHEN by Daniel Pink

9 min
Average Score

Productivity Game

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In the world of sales, productivity is not just about hard work; it's also about timing. Understanding the science of timing can be a game-changer for sales reps looking to optimize their performance. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how your biological clock affects productivity and provide practical tips to help you be more productive throughout the day.

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity

Ever wondered why your energy and focus seem to mysteriously vanish between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.? Author Dan Pink calls this time the "Bermuda Triangle of the day." It's when productivity takes a nosedive, and costly mistakes become more likely.

Research shows that during this two-hour window, doctors are more likely to make errors, students perform poorly on exams, and CEOs may say something detrimental during earnings calls. So, what's causing this productivity plunge?

The Science Behind Your Biological Clock

To understand the afternoon slump, you need to grasp the concept of your circadian rhythm. This internal clock in your brain controls various bodily functions, including hormone release, which affects your alertness and mental ability.

Your circadian rhythm follows a predictable pattern. After waking up, you experience a peak in attention and mental ability. Then comes the trough, approximately seven to eight hours later—right between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Finally, there's the rebound, where your focus and energy gradually return.

The Power of the Nap

To combat the productivity dip during the trough, consider taking a nap. According to Dan Pink, naps act as "Zambonis for our brains," smoothing out the mental scuffs and scratches of the day. The ideal nap duration is 10 to 20 minutes. Studies show that even a 10-minute nap can boost mental alertness for up to three hours.

For example, Italian police officers who took naps before their shifts experienced 48 percent fewer traffic accidents than those who didn't nap. NASA pilots, air traffic controllers, and computer programmers also rely on naps to enhance their performance.

The Napa Chino: A Power Nap with a Twist

For an even more effective nap, try the "Napa Chino." Here's how it works:

  • Consume a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea.
  • Put on a sleep mask and earplugs.
  • Lie down for 10 to 20 minutes.

The caffeine won't enter your bloodstream for about 20 to 25 minutes, so you'll wake up refreshed and alert, ready to tackle your tasks.

Navigating Your Day for Peak Performance

If your work environment doesn't allow for naps, you can still optimize your productivity by structuring your day strategically:

1. Work Before and After the Trough

Reserve your most important tasks for the periods before and after the trough. Your attention peaks and rebounds during these times, making it ideal for critical work.

2. During the Trough: Familiar and Mundane Tasks

If you must work during the trough, stick to familiar and mundane tasks. Use checklists to minimize the risk of costly mistakes.

3. Two Types of Work: Logical and Insightful

Not all tasks are created equal. There are two types of work:

  • Logical Work: This is associated with tasks that require clarity, organization, and structure, like programming or solving logical problems.
  • Insightful Work: Creative tasks, brainstorming, and solving insight problems fall into this category.

4. Match Task Type with Timing

  • Do logical work in the morning during your peak.
  • Reserve insightful work for the rebound period in the late afternoon or evening.

Chronotype Matters

While these guidelines work for most people, it's essential to consider your chronotype. Roughly 25 percent of individuals have a late chronotype, meaning they are more creative and energized in the evening. If you fall into this category, adjust your schedule accordingly.

To delve deeper into the science of timing and discover how to tailor your daily schedule for peak productivity, we invite you to watch our informative video session.

Timing is not just an art; it's a science. By understanding your biological clock and aligning your tasks with your energy levels, you can unlock peak productivity. Whether you're a morning person or a night owl, there's a way to make your timing work for you. So, embrace the power of naps, structure your day wisely, and watch your productivity soar.

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