I remember I used to work all night to get an assignment done. Sometimes it would take hours to make sense of a single paragraph. Usually by the time the sun came up my assignment would end up resembling something closer to a massacre than an academic paper.
I know a good sleep and a fresh pair of eyes made me feel better about my work. In the morning things just seemed to make more sense. I have found I do my best work early in the morning when I am learning new skills or need to apply logic to any problem.
Oddly enough I haven’t always found early morning to be the best time to work. In fact, for creative tasks I have often struggled to come up with a single good idea in the morning. I usually find I am open to little bursts of inspiration late at night, which help me think of new ideas and be more creative.
I later learned why my maths was terrible at night (okay it was terrible all the time) and why I couldn’t come up with a single original idea when I woke. Our brains work in cycles; so if you learn what your brain does, and when, you can be more effective.
According to Rose and Nicholl (1997) everyone has four different types of brain waves, which are beta, alpha, theta and delta.
- Your brain uses beta waves during the day when you are most alert. So, this time of day is your best time to solve problems. I have found this is my best time to learn new lessons or solve problems that require me to think logically.
- Your brain uses alpha brain waves when you are in a state of relaxed alertness. When your brain is in its alpha state you may be able to store information in your long term memory more effectively. I have found this is the best time for me to do creative work, like write a creative story or design a logo.
- Your brain uses theta brain waves as you go into the early stages of sleep. This is the time when you may experience bursts of inspiration. It is also the time your mind processes the day’s information. I keep a notebook beside my bed, so I can write down any inspirational ideas I experience as I settle down to go to sleep.
- Delta brain waves are your slowest and they occur when you are in a deep, dreamless sleep. I don’t do much then, as you probably guessed! Although you’re not actually doing anything you still need this deep state of rest for recovery.
I hope by sharing this I have encouraged you to consider when you do your best work and to build that into your daily schedule.
In my career I have started work before dawn, worked overnight and even straddled office work from 9-5. I have worked in various jobs and on my own projects; which have included everything from problem solving to exercises in creativity. I have learned that if I choose the right time of day to work on any project I am more productive and stand a greater chance of success.