Getting Through The Productivity Lulls

There are studies that suggest humans are most productive in 90 minute spells. However, this is only during a given day. Are there similar productivity cycles on a daily and weekly scale? Many studies mention how to be productive during our day. These studies state that we, as humans, are most productive in 90 minute sprints, with a 15-20 minute break in-between.

This site explains that:

“Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.)”

That explains the chemical balance for productivity during the day, but is it possible that our minds also work on expanding cycles (such as daily and weekly)?

The ratio of downtime-to-productiveness in these studies (90-minute effort, 15-20 minute break) is roughly 22%. If we take this ratio and apply it to days and weeks, I believe it will still be applicable to these scales. For example, let’s round that 22% off to 20% — that’s 1-in-5. How often, for one day of the working week, have you found yourself not being as productive as the other four days? Almost every week, I bet.

Let’s take that up one more bar to a weekly scale. Now sit and try to picture your weekly cycles. How often have you had a number of days in a row, or a particular week, where you have performed the minimum required? I’ll hazard a guess that it is roughly one in every five weeks.

I recently went through one such non-productive spell whereby I did the minimum required in order to get through my work day. This was after an especially productive 4 weeks-or-so. Upon thinking about these cycles, I’ve grown to realise that they definitely apply to me, and I believe they will apply to a lot of other people too.

How do you get through them? Well, that is a good question. Similar to the 15-20 minute break that should be taken every 90 minutes of work, I see this lull as a ‘break’ on a larger scale. And to get through the lulls is to simply persevere and put in as much effort as you can until the next productivity cycle kicks in.