Working in sync with your cycle: the ultimate productivity hack
"One of the joys (and pitfalls!) of freelancing is being in charge of your own schedule, so that means we’re always looking for ways to be more productive and take better care of ourselves in the process. Asana boards and midday breaks are all well and good, but have you ever thought of managing your to-do list around your cycle? Jennifer Lewis of MOODY Month - a mood and hormone cycle tracker app - explains how connecting with your hormonal fluctuations can be a freelancer’s superpower.
Our cycle is a powerful productivity tool - if we can only learn to listen to it. We’re taught to only think about the bleed phase (and the negative symptoms that come with it), however, when we pay attention to our body’s signals across a whole month, you’ll notice crucial biological patterns designed to help you succeed. There’s no one size-fits-all solution, but you could just unlock an entire new way of planning your time.
This is the beginning of your cycle - AKA your period. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest point in your cycle. The rock bottom hormone levels mean you’re probably experiencing lower energy, reduced mental speed and even struggling with memory (not to mention bleeding, cramps, breast tenderness). You’ll naturally be feeling more insular so make the most of this by solo time by planning out the week/month ahead. It’s a good time to tick off your easiest tasks of the month and work from home - don’t add more stress to your schedule with pitches, interviews or anything too taxing. Later in the week as your hormones lift, your mood will be too and you’ll be feeling ready to consider new projects.
Now your hormones are on a steady rise - estrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels are all on the up as your body prepares for ovulation. This is your ‘optimal’ hormonal balance - so you’ll likely feeling energized, sharp and focused. Take advantage of your increased brain ability and faster mental speed to tackle that tricky project with gusto. You’ll even have better verbal skills so now’s the time to take on that big meeting, important pitch or ace that dream job interview. It’s the perfect week to go to that networking event or use that energy to hustle for new clients. One watch out is all that energy can keep you up at night so avoid early morning meetings!
After ovulation you enter the luteal phase. Your peaking estrogen levels, progesterone and testosterone all rapidly shift and decline before beginning to increase more gradually. This peaking and falling in hormones can have a similar effect on your mood, bringing emotional and physical highs and lows. You’ll have your peak in memory and alertness, followed by a drop in energy. Tie up your most challenging tasks at the start of the week before your hormones dip. If you can avoid complex fact and figure work (like your finances) as you may find it trickier than normal.
In this phase your progesterone peaks, before lowering along with your estrogen levels in preparation for your upcoming bleed. It’s likely your lowering hormones will result in PMS symptoms during this phase (3 in 4 women experience it), sleeplessness and more volatile mood changes. Take on short easy to accomplish tasks, that’ll give your mood a boost. If possible, plan shorter work days and more self-care breaks. Now’s the time to enjoy that midday yoga class. You’ll have a lower patience threshold - so avoid meetings with that difficult client who’s likely to trigger you this week."
Note: We know that even as a freelancer - your schedule is not always your own. Last minute deadlines and surprise new clients might disrupt a perfectly planned calendar. This information is not a ‘must do’ or something to put more pressure on yourself, simply think of it as a simple self-care tool to help you be more mindful of your body, moods and natural strengths and weaknesses over the month.