I Tracked My Energy Every Hour for a Week - Here's What I Learned

Energy Levels - Chart.png

As coaches we spend a lot of time asking questions like...

What marketing strategies should I use to get clients?

Or...

How do I grow my coaching business?

But there's another important question that you should be asking:

When do I do my best work?

If you want to get more clients and grow your business, you need to know the answer to that question.

Discovering Your "Chronotype" Is The First Step

I recently read a book by Daniel H. Pink called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

In the book, Pink argues that timing is more of a science than an art. One of the most interesting sections in the book talks about how to use your energy flow throughout the day as a template for building your ideal schedule.

Citing research from chronobiology (the science of natural rhythms), Pink explains that each of us falls into one of three categories:

  1. Early birds/larks - people who do their best work early in the morning
  2. Night owls - people who do their best work late in the day
  3. Third birds - people who fall somewhere in between, typically doing their best work later in the morning

You may already have an intuitive sense of what "chronotype" you fall into. If you're not sure, you can take this quick BuzzFeed quiz to find out.

Why Paying Attention To Your Energy Level Is Important

Your "chronotype" determines your most and least productive times of day. Early birds and third birds follow a predictable pattern of Peak, Trough, and Rebound. Night owls are slightly different and they go through a Rebound, Trough, and Peak.

Here's what each of those terms mean:

  • Peak: This is when you have your greatest amount of mental and physical energy. Reserve this time for tasks that require analytical work. Avoid doing mindless tasks like checking email or social media since they will not take full advantage of your mental clarity.
  • Trough: This is when you experience that familiar mid-day dip in energy. For most people, this occurs just after lunch. Pink recommends taking a nap or going for a walk instead of trying to push through this period.
  • Rebound: During the rebound you will have less mental sharpness but your physical energy will have returned. This is a good time to do tasks that benefit from disinhibition such as creative brainstorming.

Once you know your chronotype, you can figure out when to schedule different types of tasks.

As entrepreneurs, this is critical information. We determine our own schedule. We're accountable for the results we achieve, not the amount of time we spend.

As coaches, it makes the most sense to schedule our client calls during the peak or the rebound.

So when Pink suggested in the book that we track our energy levels throughout the day, I was curious enough to give it a shot.

Use This Free Tool to Find Your Most Productive Time of Day

I did some research and found this blog post about how to track your body's energy levels. The author has created a really simple system using Google Forms and Google Spreadsheets. I followed his instructions in the post and got started.

After a week of tracking my energy every waking hour for a week, here's what my graph looks like:

 I used the setup in  this article  to track my energy levels between 7am and 9pm each day for a week. It shows that I am most productive at 10am each day and least productive at 2pm.

I used the setup in this article to track my energy levels between 7am and 9pm each day for a week. It shows that I am most productive at 10am each day and least productive at 2pm.

Here's what to note:

First: I'm a "moderate lark," meaning that I perform best in the morning. If given the choice I prefer to wake up around 7am and go to bed around 10pm. So if you're like me, your graph would probably look pretty similar to the one above.

Second: During this week-long test, I was working out between 4:30pm and 5:30pm each day. After seeing these results I moved my workout slightly earlier, to 2:30pm, so that I could have more energy during my work hours as opposed to pushing my rebound to after dinner.

Third: Even before taking this test, I knew that my best work was done before 1pm. That's why I do my most important tasks in the morning and don't check email until after lunch. These results reinforced the efficacy of that approach.

The Bottom Line

Instead of trying to force it and get more stuff done, what if you started focusing on aligning the type of work you do each week with your natural energy rhythms?

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you.

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon, 2829 Connecticut Avenue NW (Apt 513), Washington, DC 20008, United States