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Timing Your Day – Learning how to find the best times for production and also taking breaks! 


I have been recently listening to podcasts and reading articles by David Pink. David has done a massive amount of research on how to structure your day not only for success, but also managing stress. This area of focus has been researched by economists, microbiologists, social psychologists, chrono biologists, and many other fields so Pink compiled all the information from said fields and came up with some interesting findings.  

With timing and structure in our days Pink found three stages we all have that are called; peaks, troughs, and recovery periods. This is true for about 80% of people. These 80% of people are larks or third birds – people who tend to get up in the early am to mid am. This does not touch owls – they are a different type of bird – LOL! People used to believe, more like hoped, that brain power and cognitive abilities remain the same throughout the day, but they don’t!  

Doing certain types of work in certain times of the day will help with production and performance. 


►Peaks – this is typically earlier in the morning. When it comes to timing it’s about 6am-11am (for any times I’m giving it allows for the people who vary some) in the morning. During this time, we are the most vigilant – where we can bat away most distractions. Social psychologists call this analytic work where it requires us to have heads down, giving 100% attention, and full focus. Examples of this would be writing and compiling reports, data analyzing, and going over steps in strategies. 


►Trough – this is a bad time of day for productivity. For timing of the day, I would say it ranges from 10am–3pm, this is our foggy part of the day. This time of day is where we should do administrative work where we need less brain power and less creativity. Research shows it’s also a bad time in healthcare where most mistakes are made, lows corporate performance, and the highest time for traffic accidents.  


►Recovery – this time of the day runs from 2pm and later in to the afternoon/evening. During these times our mood is now good but our vigilance is not the greatest! During this time the best activities would be brainstorming, creativity, and solving insight problems.   


With all this talk on stages/timing, etc. Pink also did research on breaks. I used to believe that breaks were for amateurs or a sign on weakness in performance but research shows that the pro’s take breaks and they are indicators of performance!  

Research shows that breaks are powerful! 

We should take more breaks throughout our days and lunch is one of them. When taking lunch, do it away from your desk and COVID pending, take lunches with other people. As for other breaks, as with lunch, GET AWAY FROM YOUR DESK! Some examples of breaks could be: 

  • Go exercise 

  • Walk on the track for few laps 

  • Go shoot a few basketballs in the courts 

  • Take a walk outside 

  • Take a walk outside with a co-worker and DON’T talk about work 

  • Just get out of your workplace comfort zone and take a break! 


So hopefully this might help some people with planning their day – hopefully people are already doing this! All of us and our jobs are different and our days might not always facilitate us doing admin stuff during a trough or analytics during a peak but if we are mindful of our days and communicate effectively you might be able to restructure days for better performance. And better mental health!

John W., Senior Wellness Director

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Category: Health & Wellness
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John Whitmyre is the Senior Wellness Director at the Downtown YMCA in Omaha and Charles E. Lakin YMCA in Council Bluffs. He is a Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist, Sports Injury Specialist, and Certified Personal Trainer. John has over 10 years of training experience in regards to fitness, nutrition, and mindset coaching. He spends his free time with his wife (Kayla) and three children (Ellie, Michael, & Layla).