Time management is one of the greatest challenges for today's college students. For new students, you are wrestling with the intoxication of your new-found freedom. For all students, you are juggling your class time with studying, papers, activities, as well as your social life.
How can you make the most out of your day so you can be efficient and perform to the the best of your ability? A lot of research has been conducted on the natural rhythm of the body and how we perform certain tasks more effectively at different times of the day. Paying close attention to your body's clock can make a difference in what you can accomplish, ultimately leading to success in college and in your life beyond.
Scheduling tasks according to your body's rhythm can have a postitve effect on your health. Disruptions in the circadian rhythm of waking and sleeping can increase depression, obesity and diabetes. It is best to try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Now I know that is not likely to happen on weekends, but maybe you can strive for that on weekdays.
These rhythms can actually be seen in social networking. Emails sent earlier in the day are more often read because people check them first thing in the morning. People who use Twitter tend to write more upbeat tweets in the morning because sleep is refreshing, leaving us alert and more enthusiastic. If you want your tweets to be retweeted, post them between 3:00 and 6:00 each day when people lack the creative engergy to post their own. More emotional tweets are posted at night when people are free of the stresses from the day.
High energy and clarity occurs earlier in the morning, unless you are a night person. This is a better time to engage in those difficult or emotional conversations.
As the body temperature rises through the morning, your cognitive skills improve. Taking a warm shower can actually jump-start this process. Working memory, alertness and concentration tend to increase in the late morning and it improves through midday. If you do not have a class at this time, it would be productive to set aside this block for studying or writing papers.
Alertness tends to decline after a meal, so it may be wise to tackle those more challenging mental tasks before you eat. By mid afternoon it all unravels. Have you noticed that you are fighting off sleepiness around 2:00? (I am writing this at 1:50 and my eyelids are getting heavy!) That is when sleepiness peaks for most people. Closing your eyes for 15 minutes can refresh and renergize you.
Eye-hand coordination tends to peak at 4:00. Tasks involving physical activity are best performed during this time of day. Physical performance is best, with the least risk of injury between 3:00 and 6:00 PM and the lungs are more efficient at 5:00. The joints and muscles are more flexible in the evening, so late afternoon is a fantastic time to head over to the recreation center for that workout.
So what is the evening good for? As we tire and the mind relaxes, we lower our inhibition and the creative thinking comes flooding in. Our minds are more open to offbeat ideas and solutions. I have found that the most profound solutions to my challeges come flooding in during this time of the day.
Our body rhythms can vary. Some people are night owls. They love to stay up late, performing best during the wee hours of the night and sleeping late. What is your natural rhythm? Pay attention to your body and structure your day accordingly. You will be glad you did!