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How to be productive by harnessing your menstruation cycle?

Have you ever participated in an important meeting where you really wanted to show your strengths but somehow you couldn't, you rather felt that you struggled to connect well with the participants, you even had some conflicting moments and overall you feel that it was a failure, but you don't understand what happened exactly? Chances are that you could have excelled as you just wanted in a different period of your menstrual cycle.

These days, we have so many tasks and responsibilities that it became more important than ever to be efficient and perform well daily, which is challenging for everyone, especially if you are a mother with a professional career.

There are tons of advice about being effective by waking up early or blocking out times daily, which is great - the only problem is that those daily habit tips had been created with only the circadian cycle in mind, which is our biological clock, following the rhythm of daytime and night, and for men, that is sufficient.

But for us, women, we are not mini men with slightly less body weight, so we can't ignore the fact that our body functions based on two cycles: one is the circadian cycle and the other is the infradian or menstrual cycle, and the latter has just as much impact on our energy level and productivity as the former one. So if you want to be productive and effective as a professional woman, it is recommended to plan with both your cycles in mind.

The good thing is that you can learn to bio-hack your life and sync your female hormonal cycle with your busy life and schedule your professional and personal life accordingly. How?

The female hormonal cycle is predictable, there are four main phases when different hormones are in charge and those periods bring different advantages and strengths that we can learn to build on. This way, we can avoid being reactive and be more strategic instead.

Phase 1: Follicular Phase - Creativity

This is the first phase of your menstrual cycle, it starts right after your period and lasts approximately 10-14 days. This is the time when you are the most productive when you are

full of creative energy

  • you are inspired and open to trying out new things

  • when you shall experiment and initiate new projects, brainstorm with people, and create ambitious visions

  • when exercising, this is the period when cardio feels good as you are full of energy, so it is ideal to go running or to a good aerobic training

Phase 2: Ovulatory Phase - Communication

Happens approximately in the middle of your period, around days 15-17. You are the master of communication at this time, your verbal skills are brilliant, and you might feel like having more social interactions and meeting friends. It is ideal to

  • plan important meetings and negotiations for this time, like talking about your salary raise, deals

  • networking with potential clients or partners

  • plan your 1to1 meetings with your team

  • schedule some HIIT workouts

Phase 3: Luteal Phase - Productivity

The luteal phase takes place around Days 18-28, and that is the time when you are the most powerful in getting things done. This is the ideal time to

  • finish projects and have tasks completed, kill the last items on your to-do list

  • have special attention to small details, enjoy working more in solitude and dedicate yourself to activities that need focus and attention

  • work with numbers, plan with admin tasks like your invoices or concentrate on writing a new chapter of your book

  • practising yoga or some more gentle ways of exercising, instead of cardio this might be the time for strength training

  • surprising, but you might need extra sleep in this period and more calorie intake, so maybe it is not the best idea to wake up early to be more productive in this period

Phase 4: Menstruation Phase - Reflection

This is the time of reflection and being more intuitive, listening to your gut feeling. It is the best time for

  • intuitive thinking, evaluating your performance, and your progress at work

  • analysing how you feel yourself in your life, whether you are going in the direction you wanted to, how satisfied and content are you with your professional or personal life and if you would like to change things

  • setting new objectives and creating plans

What can you do with this information now? Look at your schedule and see how can you move things around and try out if the above makes a difference for you. And if you want to know more, there is quite a lot of science on the topic. I can recommend the book Woman Code by Alisa Vitti where I first heard about the huge differences between our phases.

Personally, I found it extremely useful not just how to plan my weeks, but also, to be more understanding and patient with myself and not to expect the same level of communication skills or productivity or being detailed oriented throughout my period. What is your experience with planning ahead your schedule based on your cycle?

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