Katie Forrest

Writing About Creativity, Special Needs Parenting, Time Management & Life Dispatches.

A Writer’s Guide to Circadian Rhythms

If you haven’t heard the term circadian rhythms before, you will almost certainly have heard of the idea, but under a different name – your body clock, perhaps.

Circadian rhythms are your body’s natural daily rhythms. They play a role in whether you’d say you’re an early bird or a night owl.

We each have these natural rhythms and, in an ideal world, we’d live our lives in tune with them.

The difficulty is that most of us live lives that leave our body clocks in the background. Our wake up time is dictated to us by an alarm clock, or a little person. And bed time might be whenever we finish the day’s list of errands and chores, the time we physically collapse with exhaustion or (if you’re like me) the time you had to go to bed as a young adult. Yep, I still follow my teenage bedtime!

The good news is that it’s not that hard to tap into your circadian rhythms and doing so can really help your productivity as a writer, because when you’re following these natural cycles, your energy is high, your concentration hasn’t disappeared, and your more likely to reach a flow state (read more about this in Deep Work by Cal Newport)

How To (Re)Discover Your Circadian Rhythms:

  1. Take the Chronotype quiz online
  2. If you’re not the online quiz type, you can get back in touch with your body clock by listening to the cues your body sends you. Keep a regular sleep cycle for a few days (no super early mornings or late nights) and take notes of when you have the most energy through the day and when you feel most tired. Your body is already talking to you – you may just not have been hearing it.
  3. Check out the Oura if you’re a wearable technology fan


What To Do Next

Once you’ve reconnected with your natural body clock, you should have a good idea of when you are most alert and able to concentrate on your most important work.

If you’re reading this, you probably class your most important work as your writing, and you’ll see great results if you can begin devoting your peak times to getting your words down.

That may not be possible, of course. If your peak time is 10am-12pm and that’s the busiest time in your day job, or the time when you have a toddler at home because the nursery only has afternoon availability, clearly you can’t work miracles and lock yourself away in those hours. I mean, you can, but your boss and protective services may have something to say about it.

But you may find that your energy is best in the mornings, and yet you’ve been trying to write at the end of the day. If that’s the situation, try going to bed earlier and waking up an hour earlier to write. And vice versa.

I’ll be talking about this topic more in my upcoming book on time management and productivity for writers. You can grab my free time management hack guide and join the waiting list for more info on the book.

(Disclaimer: some of the links on this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click through and order a product, you pay no more and I get a few pennies towards my coffee addiction.)


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