Make the most of your day
We often think it is necessary to make major changes in order to spend our time more wisely and get more accomplished each day. But it could be the little, easy tweaks that add up to one big shift.
No doubt you have heard that concentration is sharpest in the morning. Numerous studies have concluded that the best time to tackle tasks requiring focus and attention is mid-morning — just a few hours after waking.
Creativity, however, does not work this way, according to recent research. A US study published in the journal, Thinking & Reasoning suggests that creative problem- solving is best at the opposite end of the day when the mind is slightly fatigued and open to more distracting, perhaps insightful, thoughts.
You may have found this to be the case when the perfect solution pops into your head when you least expect it, such as whilst taking a shower or falling asleep. The researchers went a step further and discovered that while morning larks perform better on
analytical tasks in the morning and creative tasks in the afternoon, self-described night owls performed better the opposite way around, with creative thinking peaking in the morning.
PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AT NIGHT
Getting the day off to a productive start often means the rest of the day continues that way, so the take home message is to start each day positively. Namely, not being late for work, eating a good breakfast and maybe getting some exercise.
But what about the impact of what you were doing the evening before?
A Michigan State University study found people who used their smart phones for work purposes after 9pm were more tired and less engaged with their job tasks the next day. Plus, when compared with artificial light emitted from televisions and laptops, mobile phones fared the worst and had the most detrimental effect on sleep. The researchers believe this may be due to smart phones emitting a blue light, which appears to be the most disruptive colour.
The immediate energy boost you get from the morning coffee fix has far wider implications than you may realise.
Research from John Hopkins University published last year revealed that just 200mg of caffeine, roughly two big cups of instant coffee, enhanced long-term memory.
Two groups of study participants — one having taken caffeine tablets and the other not — were showncertain images on two consecutive days. Those who consumed the caffeine recognised a greater number of pictures from the day before.
Previously, caffeine was not thought to affect long-term memory retention at all. It is important to note that to ensure the effects were from caffeine alone, the study participants did not regularly consume caffeinated products. Caffeine has been linked with sporting performance too.
You might assume caffeine would have the most potent impact on exercise which involves short bursts of energy such as sprinting, but two Coventry University studies have found that caffeine is more likely to assist in endurance-type exercise.
So have a coffee before you head out for a long jog.
© The West Australian
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