Feeling lazy? It’s not you, it’s your period.
A couple of weeks ago, I had 4 solid days where I was able to focus for whole blocks of time, knocking to-do’s off my list left and right until I had accomplished every task I’d planned for the day. And I even had a little time left over to take the kiddos on a pre-bedtime ranger ride.
I was on a productivity high.
At the end of each day, I was feeling good, internally (and a little externally, if I’m being honest) celebrating my 4-day run of productivity. I had finally gotten a good flow and was going to keep it up through the summer.
But then day 5 hit. And shit fell completely apart.
I was baffled. What had happened to my motivation overnight? No matter what I tried, I couldn’t muster up the energy to have the same momentum of the previous 4 days. I found myself sitting more, doing those time-suck activities like scrolling my newsfeed, shopping online for things I don’t need…you know what I’m talking about. I was wasting time. And I couldn’t stop myself.
Needless to say, at the end of the evening, I was irritable, angry with myself, and overwhelmed with the stuff I didn’t get done that I would now have to transfer over to the next day’s list.
The scientific explanation of our waves of productivity
It turns out there’s a perfectly understandable, and strangely scientific, explanation for the flow of our energy and productivity. It actually follows the natural flow of our menstrual cycle.
Stay with me now…seriously, this is a real phenomenon. As women, we can plan our productivity around our monthly cycle – it’s called menstrual cycle mapping.
I listen to a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts to keep my motivation going. After that 5th day when I couldn’t seem to pull it together, I was listening to Jenna Kutcher’s No One Ever Told You This About Your Period. It was then that I first caught wind of cycle mapping.
I was so intrigued (and skeptical) that I had to find out more – why does this happen? Should I really plan my to-do lists around my period? Is this something other women do? As one does when they’re in need of a little information…I turned to Google.
Completely blown away with what popped up, my wheels started turning. It all made total sense to me – finally an explanation as to why some days I could jump out of bed with so much energy that I was able to clean, write, and workout before lunchtime, while other days I was drowsy and unmotivated with no rhyme or reason. My hormones were to blame.
So what to do about it?
Now that I know that this is a thing, I’m going to make some changes to my monthly planning to work around my hormones, instead of forcing energy that’s just not there. By planning for these unproductive days, I believe I’ll find a way to get more done each month. Because I’ll get more done on the swing of the cycle where I’ll have more natural energy.
Get to know your flow
Kudos to you if you already track your period. It’s definitely a good way to know your body. But honestly, I’m done having kids, so I really haven’t paid much attention to my monthly cycle. I mean, I have a general idea of when Aunt Flow’s on her way, give or take a week, but I couldn’t tell you when I had it two months ago or if it even happens in the same week of every month.
Here are a few FREE tracking apps to try to get a handle on your cycle:
- Period Tracker
- Magic Girl
- My Flo
- My Calendar: Period Tracker
- Garmin fitness app
- The Cycle Tracking iOS app
Be your own research project
Since listening to that podcast, I use my Garmin fitness app to track my period. I’m also planning to do some mood journaling (I don’t actually know if this is a thing, but it’s what I’m calling it). Consider me my own research project. I’m super curious to see how the flow and ebbs of my energy coincide with my cycle.
If you’re curious, too, remember that this doesn’t need to be time-consuming research. Before bed, simply jot down a few notes about how you felt through the day–if you already use a gratitude journal this should be an easy routine addition for you.
Ask yourself a few reflection questions…Was it easy to get your tasks done? Did you barely manage to get the most basic necessities taken care of throughout the day? What was your mood?
Compare your data
After a few months, you should be able to look at your period tracker and energy-level notes to see if there’s a correlation.
I haven’t gotten this far yet, but I’m interested to see if my ability to tackle my to-do lists corresponds with my hormones and menstrual cycle. I hypothesize that cycle-mapping is relevant and something that will take my productivity to the next level.
Stop beating yourself up on days when you’re unmotivated
We’ve had this pep talk before but I’m going to say it again. Show yourself grace on days when you’re unable to muster up the motivation to slash the items on your to-do list. Sometimes that energy just isn’t there, and that’s okay.
We have to stop believing that we need to be the Energizer Bunny 24/7.
As moms with a lot on our plates, we tend to believe that we need to be doing something all the time, or else we’re being lazy. But it’s simply NOT true. We need to listen to our bodies…if you don’t have the motivation, be kind to yourself and give yourself a day to sit more. Maybe use that day to read a book or journal.
Use your personal research to plan out your calendar
As you discover more about your own cycle, try to plan your days and weeks around it. Tackle the big-ticket tasks the first couple of weeks after your period, giving yourself the freedom to be a little less productive the week before. Maybe schedule more self-care the weeks you discover you’re a bit less motivated. I can’t think of a better time to schedule a massage or facial than on a forecasted low energy day!
While I was skeptical about all of this when I first heard about it, I have found myself hoping that there’s a grain of truth to it for myself. I feel like it gives me the power to plan my goals around my productivity cycle rather than forcing motivation when it truly isn’t there.
If you decide to do some cycle and productivity tracking yourself, I’d love to hear about your own findings. It would be interesting to hear if other ladies notice a correlation, too!
Finally, if you’re looking for tips to crush your weekend to-do list, check out 6 habits for a productive weekend. Weekends go ridiculously fast, so make the best out of the next one. Unless you have your period…then wait for the one after that 🙂