One minute you’re a sales superhero--blazing through your prospecting list, confidently hitting send on your latest outbound, winning over customers and colleagues alike with your humor and quick-thinking--only to find yourself zombie-ing your way through a routine Zoom call an hour later. Sound familiar?
If you feel like your sales game is stronger at certain times of day compared to others, it’s not all in your head. It’s your biological programming. We usually feel best in the late morning and then again in the late afternoon, with a window of sluggishness in between. (And if it makes you feel better, it’s universal--even your rockstar boss deals with daily fluctuations in energy, mood, and motivation.)
Though you can’t be “at your best” all the time, you can measurably improve your productivity and resulting sales success by making sure to schedule your most challenging tasks and high-stakes projects for when you’re best equipped to handle them. It’s a matter of familiarizing yourself with your own fluctuations, and planning your days accordingly when you can.
These fluctuations in your energy each day are thanks to your circadian rhythm.
You can think of your circadian rhythm as your own personal internal time-keeping mechanism. While it’s most commonly associated with our sleep and wake preferences, it plays a leading role in our daytime hours as well.
In addition to regulating your hormones, body temperature, mood, and when you feel like eating, your circadian rhythm also causes your energy levels to peak and dip throughout the day. Here is your day’s energy map at a glance:
Morning ramp up→morning peak→afternoon dip→afternoon/evening peak→evening wind-down→sleep
These ups and downs have pretty far-reaching effects--it’s not just a matter of feeling a little more pumped during your morning peak or a tad drowsy after lunch. Your energy levels also greatly impact things like focus, memory, creative problem-solving, and your ability to learn new skills, to name a few.
While there’s nothing you can do to keep your circadian rhythm from roller-coastering, you can make the most of your days (and weeks, and months, etc.) by planning ahead and using your two peaks to their fullest each day.
Depending on things like genetics and how much sleep debt we’re lugging around (more on this critical point later), our peaks can last anywhere from 75 minutes to two hours, with the first one typically occurring within an hour or so of noon and the second coming on around 6pm.
Many sellers will get bogged down responding to emails and taking care of administrative tasks during the first half of their day to “get them out of the way,” and then will try to tackle more focus-intensive work in the afternoon, just as the afternoon dip is scheduled to strike. This, sadly, is a tried and true recipe for underperforming.
During your peaks you’re going to feel like your most capable, engaged, and clear-headed self--your “best” self. So this means you should be aiming to knock out your most challenging, make-or-break projects during this time. Here are our recommendations for turning your peaks into productivity powerhouses:
During your morning peak, your focus, vigor, and tolerance for stress will be in top form. You’ll also be more emotionally resilient now, so this is a great time to take on tasks that you feel intimidated by. We suggest you:
Capture your morning peak for early meetings
The period leading into your morning peak is known as sleep inertia, or your grogginess zone. You experience this phenomena each day for ~90 minutes after waking characterized by a chemical buildup in your brain, slower reactions, and that fuzzy feeling. You can take steps to combat sleep inertia, but knowing it occurs every day, and how long it lasts, gives you the power to always be at your best for that early call or meeting. Here’s how:
Situation: That target account you’ve been pursuing finally agrees to a call, but they are giving you 30 minutes at 7:30am.
Your approach: Wake up at 6am at the latest, probably better 5:30-5:45am. While this may make for an early morning, you’ll work through your groggy period naturally and be starting, or into, your morning peak to ensure your mental, physical, and emotional faculties are full go. As a rule, allow 90 minutes, but ideally 120 minutes, between wake and when you need to be “on”.
We suggest getting to bed a bit earlier the night before too to make the wake-up easier, and so as not to build up sleep debt. A short mid-day nap can be helpful and make up for the early wake.
Your alertness is back up, and may even be higher during this second peak. While tying up loose ends from the workday is a good use of this time, we strongly recommend investing part of this second peak in your relationships and personal life. Not only is it good for you mentally, emotionally, and physically to take a meaningful break from work each day, but a healthy work-life balance makes you a better seller.
While still on the clock, this is a great time to:
Once work is done, we suggest you:
In addition to peak length, mentioned above, sleep debt also seriously impacts your energetic potential during your peaks. In other words, the more well-rested you are, the higher your highs will be. And, conversely, if you owe yourself a lot of sleep these peak periods will be significantly less potent.
We encourage you to keep your sleep debt low by prioritizing consistent early bedtimes and practicing good sleep hygiene, so you can be sure that your peaks will reach their own peak potential each day.
Your circadian rhythm is as unique as your fingerprint, but unlike your fingerprint your rhythm is dynamic, meaning it changes slightly from day to day, depending on the duration and timing of your sleep, existing sleep debt, exposure to sunlight, etc.
While this is intuitive to some extent (you know when you feel good, and when you feel like taking a nap), RISE can be an invaluable tool that eliminates the guesswork entirely so that you can plan ahead and act with confidence.
Learn more about Rise for sales teams.