How do you work? Are you the sort of person who chains themselves to their desk, refusing to leave until your work is complete? In a survey the Huffington Post conducted to examine work and rest in a traditional work environment, they found the following results:
“Among the 1000 or so respondents in the first week, more than 60 percent take 20 minutes or less for lunch, and 25 percent never leave their desk at all. Two-thirds fail to take at least some of their allotted vacation time and 25 percent leave at least a week's worth of vacation unused each year.”
If you have a background in a corporate or more traditional form of employment, then you know that this is the sort of attitude and work ethic that’s expected. However, although this way of working is a social norm, it isn’t necessarily the most effective way to accomplish work.
This Translators Hub post will show why this old way of working is ineffective, and how, as a freelancer, you’re able to leverage a much more effective way to work by exploiting your natural work rhythms.
What is a work rhythm?
A work rhythm is your natural physical and emotional capacity for effective work, which fluctuates throughout the day. Technically speaking, what we refer to as ‘work rhythms’ are actually termed ‘ultradian rhythms’, and were popularized by Tony Schwartz.
Schwartz discovered that an individual’s energy level had a much greater bearing on their productivity that than the amount of time available to accomplish a project: it’s just not realistic to expect human beings to work the same way that machines do.
Schwartz believed that energy is divided into different cycles of 90 minutes, and that harnessing these cycles is paramount to work-related productivity.
What will you get out of finding your work rhythm?
By successfully working with your natural energy level, you should notice a number of benefits:
1. You’ll be more productive
2. You’ll spend less time working
3. You’ll have more energy left for work and play
How to use your natural work rhythm for increased productivity
First, you need to do something that busy translators often neglect: be reflective. At the end of the day, take some time to slowly replay the events in your mind. At what times were you most productive? When did you feel tired?
Make a mental note of the times when you felt most energized for work, and allocate periods of time for work, of no more than 90 minutes, around those moments.
At the end of each work period, make sure to step away from your computer and do something else. Ideally, this will be a completely different and fun activity, such as a quick walk, yoga or a chat with a friend.
By making sure you take regular brakes, you refill you energy, making you able to work more productively in less time than usual.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take a quick nap if needed, especially if you know your productivity takes a dip at a certain time of day.
As a freelancer, your ability to approach work in a flexible manner allows you to utilize your work rhythms in a way that traditional employees often can’t. Use this to your advantage!
Have you ever experimented with work rhythms? If you have, why not share your experience with us? Or if you haven’t, would you consider experimenting with the idea? Let us know in the comments below.