Schedules and Productivity Are Linked

Schedules and productivity go hand in hand. You likely know when you're at your most productive. However, this isn't so clear in group settings.
Schedules and Productivity Are Linked

Last update: 27 March, 2021

Your schedules directly influence your productivity. This is because you don’t feel the same at 8:00 A.M. as you do 12 hours later. Similarly, if you had to work 20 straight days, you wouldn’t be as productive as if you’d rested four or five days in that period of time.

However, we can’t generalize. What might be a productive schedule for some won’t be for others. In fact, although there are certain common patterns in humans, education and habits play a role in shaping them as well.

Schedules play a very important role in working more intelligently. As a matter of fact, they allow you to be more productive with less time and effort.

“I wish I could stand on a busy street corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours.”

 -Bernard Berenson-

A man working at a desk.

Schedules, productivity, and cycles

The human body works cyclically with the circadian rhythm, which lasts 24 hours. It determines a certain amount of regularity between sleep and wakefulness where there are peaks and troughs of activity every day around the same time.

These cycles vary from person to person. In a “circadian day”, there are 90-minute blocks during which you have a higher capacity for concentration. Therefore, these are the blocks of maximum productivity.

These blocks are known as ultradian rhythms and they coincide with the times of day that your brain has the most energy. At the end of each block, there’s a decrease in energy, which affects your productivity. They mark the times when your brain needs a break.

The most productive hours of the day

Based on what we mentioned above, it’s best to synchronize your ultradian rhythms with the more focused and complex tasks you have to do during your day. Similarly, use the blocks in between to carry out your more routine tasks that don’t require a great deal of focused attention.

Therefore, you need to know how to identify your own ultradian rhythms. The only way to do this is to track them, as you probably know when your most productive times are. However, this isn’t enough, as you need to be a bit more specific.

A good way to do this is to make a diagram. You can score each hour you want to rate on a scale between one and five, depending on how effectively you’ve managed to concentrate during that time. After a couple of weeks, you’ll have a clear idea of how your ultradian rhythms work.

Then, analyze your data and organize your activities in such a way that you make the most of both the peaks and troughs in your concentration levels. This way, you’ll boost your productivity.

A woman at her computer.

Work fewer hours but more flexibly

A study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that was published in The Economist revealed extraordinary data. The researchers concluded that the longer a person works, the more their productivity decreases.

This is bad news for people who like classic work schedules. However, many people already suspected that spending more time on a task doesn’t necessarily guarantee better results. As a matter of fact, if you work for fewer hours, you might feel more eager to complete the task in less time.

After much discussion on the subject, experts partially concluded that working methods affect productivity more than working schedules. Consequently, if you have the right incentive, you’ll be more productive. Furthermore, while working one hour less each day might not seem much, over a week, this almost equals another day off.

Today, most companies tend to be working fewer hours, as they’ve realized that this leads to greater productivity. On the other hand, some companies choose a goal-oriented approach. In other words, the worker can leave as soon as they’ve completed their assigned tasks. Nevertheless, this debate remains open for discussion. Bu one idea remains clear: overworking isn’t good for anyone.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Eguiarte, D. M. (2017). Horarios flexibles como estrategia para mejorar la productividad y reducir la rotación. ACADEMO Revista de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, 4(2).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.