I am all about achieving more, which is why I’m obsessed with habits. So when I stumbled upon Kate Northrup and her work on cyclical living and how the cycle of our period impacts our performance, I was intrigued.
Now I know talking about periods is usually considered impolite or something we do in hushed tones with our girlfriends but bear with me here. Because the fact is, 50% of the population is female and our period affects us every month, for most of our lives.
Our periods impact our mood, feelings and energy. And attuning to our bodies and working in alignment with our menstruation cycle can be game-changing to our productivity and happiness.
So today on the blog I’m exploring what cyclical living is and how to incorporate it into your life to get the best results. This is largely based on the work of Kate Northrup in her book Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms. (Don’t let the title fool you… this book is for every woman!)
What is cyclical living?
Have you ever stared at your computer for hours trying desperately to get through your to-do list and achieved nothing, despite your best intentions?
And yet on other days you whizz through things effortlessly and end the day feeling like superwoman?
I know I have. And it’s likely that your menstrual cycle has something to do with it.
See, we most commonly plan our activities in 24-hour blocks, otherwise known as a day. Which coincidently is the frequency of a man’s hormone cycle.
However, women have cycles approximately 28 days long. This hormonal cycle reflects the cycle of your period and includes four phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal. Each phase carries a different energy and focus, which impacts our mood, interests and productivity.
Cyclical living is the act of aligning your activities with the stage of your menstruation cycle, resulting in better synergy and allows you to achieve more while doing less.
What you need to know about cyclical planning
There are four distinct phases to every woman’s cycle, menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal. Each phase aligns with the four phases of the moon and the seasons of the year. These stages each bring an energetic shift and allows us to draw on particular strengths and skills during that time. These are:
- Menstruation (new moon, winter) – this is a time for rest, contemplation and evaluation. This is a time of inward reflection and often involves alone time.
- Follicular phase (waxing quarter, spring) – focuses on new beginnings. It’s the ideal time to start planning and brainstorming new ideas or projects. During this time your creativity is at its peak.
- Ovulation (full moon, summer) – this is period for high energy activities such as collaborating, networking and communication. During this stage, you’ll feel most energetic and engaged with other people. It’s the ideal time to attract and connect.
- Luteal (waning moon, autumn) – focuses on detail orientated activities and tasks, as well as completing projects. This is often the time for the ‘head down, bums up’, where you are focused on actually doing the work.
How to implement cyclical living
Now, I appreciate that for most of us we can’t realign all our tasks with the period of our cycle. But small changes can go a long way. Northrup suggests trying to align 20% of your activities with the respective phase of your cycle to see big results.
So consider how you can reschedule some of your work activities or personal projects to align with your phase and see what happens.
From my own experience, I initially thought this was all a bit woo-woo, but the results were undeniable.
By having this knowledge about cyclical phases, I was able to give myself more grace. I allowed myself to have lower output days during my menstrual phase without worrying about it. And I found that my productivity soared during my luteal phase.
Having a more holistic approach to our work and understanding of our bodies can make a huge difference to your overall productivity, happiness and energy. I encourage you to try it!
To find out more, get your hands on Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms and try out the experiments – they really are game-changing.
Or check out Kate’s interview with Marie Forleo to find out more.
Do you have a girlfriend that might benefit from this insight? Do her a favour and share this email, she’ll thank you for it!