This Little Known Pattern Dictates How You Work

Understanding Ultradian Rhythm for Productivity

You’ve probably heard of Circadian rhythm but did you know there’s another internal clock that affects us during the entire 24 hour cycle?

Ultradian rhythm is the lesser known cousin of Circadian rhythm and a biological pattern that’s hard wired into your DNA.

It’s an internal dictation of how your body functions and it looks like this:

Shows the Ultradian Performance Rhythm which dictates productivity. It is a wave structure with peaks lasting 90 mins and troughs lasting 20 mins.
the more I learn about our physiology, the more I see this wave pattern come up. I’ll cover that in another email. 

Understanding Ultradian rhythm can unlock all sorts of energy and productivity! As you can see from the graphic, we all require regular spurts of recovery. This helps to explain why the Pomodoro method can be so effective. 

It’s important to note the 90/20 arrangement is not set in stone! I’d encourage you to test out what cycles work best for you.

I personally started with 45 minutes on and 15 to 20 minutes resting, and over the years my ON length has increased to at most 2 hours at a time with a 30-45 minute rest period. 


When I first learned about this, I was jazzed because I realized that at 10am when I became distracted or hungry or lost interest in work, it is completely natural. Your body is functioning exactly as it should and you should listen to it! You’ve entered an Ultradian trough and you should take a break, because your body will continue the cycle and before you know it you’ll be back at peak productivity. 

If you lean into these breaks, you’ll find that you have lasting energy throughout the day. If you ignore them, that’s when the afternoon slump becomes a problem and you’ll feel tapped out by 2 or 3pm and unable to recover any significant productivity. 

Willpower can never outwork or outlast the body’s natural function. 

In case you missed it:

My podcast episode with Lisa Nicole Bell, who taught me about Ultradian rhythms. We discussed all things process and planning, plus how she strategized for her rocketship year.
How Crystal Clear Intentions Help You Thrive In Your Purpose With Rya Hodges: Rya is an Intentional Change Agent and time management coach. She gives great insight on holistic productivity and how she redefined the American dream for herself.

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