So… this is one for the ladies… sorry men but you really don’t have this problem. You are (generally) predictable and steady but for the ladies it’s different. But please read on to be more informed…
Before I start I have to let you know that I am not medically trained and this should in no way be taken as medical advice, it’s what I have found out about myself and discovered. It’s not massively written about in terms of how it affects your productivity but I think it’s really important to get it out there. I thought I was going slightly crazy until I figured out what was going on…
So, I have recently been tracking my monthly cycle with the help of a brilliant app called ‘Clue’ (free at the time of writing for iPhone and Android) get it immediately, if you haven’t already. It lets you input your data for your cycle, how you feel physically and mentally, if you feel exhausted, unmotivated if you are craving chocolate, salty crisps – you get the idea. It also predicts when your next cycle will begin (based on what you tell it) and everything else in between, so far, it’s been spot on (excuse the pun). I think it’s fantastic and it has transformed my life both on a personal and business basis.
It’s made me analyse my moods and my productivity levels (you can record and check back on how you feel on each day of the month). Oh, and my mindset! You can see a pattern: when you feel exhausted, unmotivated and can’t be bothered. Quite frankly, it’s saved my sanity. It’s made me realise on those days when you can’t be bothered or you can’t get motivated or even when you hit a wall and feel like you are rubbish and can’t do anything and you question ‘why would anyone ever give you any work?’. It’s generally not you: it’s your hormones and your monthly cycle. This was news to me. Previously I had wrapped it all up as angry PMT as media generally tells you, but it’s deeper than that.
At different stages of the month, you have different levels of productivity and it’s all to do with the stage of your cycle.
Forget it. Try not to plan anything major for this time. Go on virtual holiday. Put on the out of office sign –physically and mentally. Take time out hunker down.
Go for it! This is the most productive, and sociable time of your cycle.
Days 6-12 especially, are your most productive times of the month to do anything.
(Coincides with ovulation generally, funnily enough!)
Days 19- 28
Start winding down. You will still feel energized and focus should be good but save the big push on a project for Day 6.
I am not going to get into the technical/hormonal/medical aspect as I am no medical practitioner but suffice to say that by recognising those times of the month when I know I am going to feel unproductive and unmotivated and generally ‘meh’, I can plan my work better and plan ahead for when I know there will be a lull in my motivation and productivity levels.
I know you can’t over analyse these things and take for gospel but for the past 4 months on day 6 of my cycle I feel like my entire life has restarted (Days 1-5 forget it) Finally, I get out of my 5 days of unproductive haze; a lot of it has to do with exhaustion but it’s so great to know I am not going crazy.
It’s essential for women to be more aware of their monthly cycle not only from a health aspect both mentally and physically but also for planning big events, work, pitches, life events. Knowing that there is an end in sight to when you feel that you just can’t figure out how to get motivated and keep thinking ‘what on earth is wrong with me?’
So, my advice is this get ‘Clue’ (or keep a record of how you feel emotionally and in relation to your motivation and productivity). Get clued up on your cycle and plan ahead for the times when you know it’s going to feel difficult to be productive and motivated and try and plan to do things that don’t require masses of effort and motivation. Save and plan your days when you need to be productive in your diary then you don’t end up frustrated and exhausted wondering what on earth is wrong with me!
Written on Day 6 Couldn’t possibly have even contemplated on days 1-5 How’s that for inspiration!! Thank you Clue, and my friend that recommended Clue to me! Not endorsed by Clue whatsoever.
Further reading on the subject can be found here;
For Android and iPhone – and free! Their Twitter feed is pretty good too.
I thoroughly recommend the mind body green article as it was exactly what I was thinking.