What time, or times, during the day are you most creative?
For some of us, we find ourselves to be more creative at night, while others have more ideas and produce more work early in the morning.
The value of knowing can make or break a project, career, or creative dream.
Why? Because our bodies tend to work in strict cycles of ups and downs called biorhythms (or circadian rhythms). These rhythms regulate everything from blood pressure, body temperature, respiration rate, and – critically for creativity – energy levels.
These rhythms are so engrained in our very biochemistry that scientists have even identified individual cells within areas of the brain that maintain their own circadian rhythm. In fact, these microscopic rhythms are completely independent from the larger neurological rhythm that deals with most of your body!
One result of these continuous fluctuations is a direct impact on your mental abilities and – specifically – memory. As creatives, memory is how we connect ideas to form new ideas, it’s also how we digest experiences, and then use them later as sources for creative output.
Knowing what times of the day your biorhythms are most active can help you be more productive, produce more novel ideas, and engage your creative capacity when it’s guaranteed to be at its fullest.
If your body is low on energy reserves, the parts of your brain that need the most fuel can suffer. Unmotivated and without energy, the likelihood of stumbling on creative output can be slim.
But how do we identify when our personal rhythms are at their best for creativity? When is yourmost creative time of the day?
For one, don’t rely on results that you read in studies.
Some scientific studies have been conducted over the last several decades in an effort to figure out if rhythms are universal for introverts vs. extroverts, those who go to bed early and those who stay up until the wee hours of the morning, and so on.
What those surveys have found is that there is no universal norm. Your genetics are drastically different than anyone else’s, so why would your biorhythms be the same as anyone else’s?
In order to find your rhythm you’ll have to do a little work. But the value of doing so, again, is that you’ll be better equipped for brainstorming, knowing when to work and when to rest, and for planning your day around your creative capabilities.
The first step to identifying your rhythms is to take what’s referred to as a “Horne–Ostberg Morningness–Eveningness questionnaire.” You can Google the name to find free surveys online that will quiz you on your sleeping and energy habits. Or, if you’re really dedicated to finding your rhythm, seek a local professional.
After taking the survey, you can utilize the results to set daily reminders (on your phone, with an alarm clock, or whatever else works for you) to monitor your active and creative times.
From there, whenever you find yourself feeling energized or creative, try to make an active effort to record the time of day and day of the week. Using something as simple as a notebook or an app on your phone is all it takes.
After a week or two of keeping track, look back and see if you can clearly identify when you feel the most energized and creative.
Being able to know when the best times and days are for your creative work enables you to worry less about whether or not you’re going to be able to do the work or have worthwhile ideas when you need them most.
I noticed my energy levels drastically decreasing over the past few months and I couldn’t figure out why. My work was struck with a layer of half-assedness and I found it difficult to focus when I needed to most.
Sure enough, after a few weeks of monitoring my creative states and energy, I was able to spot what was going on: I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Simple fix, and the results are already beginning to show. I’m more energized and find myself coming home from a day full of work only to plop down and start brainstorming more work to do.
Unfortunately, the steps are really all you can do to identify your most creative times of the day. It’s an incredibly complex process within your body that only you will be able to properly identify.
Of course, if you’ve found yourself less-energized lately, unable to focus and you are experiencing a lack of creativity, your mental rhythm may be out of sync with your biorhythm. You can take a circadian survey to check for problems and get proposed solutions.