Complete Guide to Cyclical Living – An Alternative Productivity Mindset

If you are one of those people who follows productivity coaches and motivational speakers, you may have noticed a bit of a backlash against the productivity mindset as of late. It is true that the same methods don’t work for everyone, and you need to try out different systems to find out what works for you. The main idea behind cyclical living is that if you work with your natural energies, you are more likely to be more balanced. In theory, this will aid your productivity and enrich your life while you expend less effort.

What is Cyclical Living?

The laws of physics and nature can also apply to us as human beings. Often in our quest to be our best selves, we ignore our natural rhythms, seasons, and cycles. It is normal to have ups and downs in our energy cycles.

Usually, Instead of leaning into these natural downtimes, or seasons, we do everything in our power to get out of them.

Cyclical living is the practice of working with your natural cycles of energy to help you to achieve balance. 

We’ve all had experiences when we had too much on our plate, but somehow, we were able to achieve more than we thought possible.  Our tasks expand to fill the time we have available and contract when we have strict deadlines.  There can be a price to pay for these bursts of energy and productivity. Often these periods are followed by bouts of sickness, low mood, or exhaustion.  

When you are on a down energy cycle and try to fight it, it is as if you were holding on to the edges of the slide, not going up or down. Essentially, you get stuck because you have halted your natural cycle.  But if instead, you lean into your low energy and rest, (as you do when you let go of the edges of the slide) you will let the cycle continue and come out of the low part of your cycle much faster. By taking care of yourself, you naturally are able to move forward instead of forcing yourself.

In more broad terms, cyclical living helps you time these periods of expansion and contraction so that they aren’t forced.  This allows you to be more relaxed and more productive with less effort. In this way, you work with the seasons of your life and enjoy the journey rather than trying to force forward progress.

Cyclical Living Infographic

Practical Ways to Apply Cyclical Living In Your Life

There are many other ways to use cyclical living to feel more in tune with your energy.  When you become aware of the patterns and rhythms that affect your mind and body, you can start to develop systems that make you feel balanced and more at peace with who you are. You can also learn to instinctually lean into your energy as it naturally ebbs and flows.

  • Plan a fresh start for a time in your cycle when you know you will feel motivated. 
  • Keep a list of tasks and to-dos, save low-energy tasks and activities on hand for times you feel like doing nothing.
  • Prioritize your tasks, especially on low energy days, to determine what really has to be done and what can wait.
  • In times of low energy, recharge with slow walks, naps, or gentle stretching rather than forcing yourself to work.
  • Plan activities to correspond with your natural daily rhythms. For example, If you have energy in the morning and early evening plan the most difficult mental and physical tasks first thing in the morning and take a break in the afternoon when you lose focus.

Types of Natural Cycles:

In learning how to work with your natural patterns, it is helpful to learn more about them.  This is a brief explanation of the types of cycles that can affect you.  You are unique, and some of these cycles may affect you more than others.  

  • Ultradian rhythm

A natural cycle that repeats throughout the day. For example, blood circulation, heart rate, blinking, appetite.

  • Circadian rhythm

Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural 24-hour clock.

  • Infradian rhythm

An infradian rhythm is a biological cycle that lasts longer than one day.  This includes cycles in both men and women caused by hormones, as well as external factors such as tidal or seasonal rhythms.  For example, seasonal depression due to lower light would be an infradian rhythm. A woman’s menstrual cycle is also an infradian rhythm.

Although much of the information available on cyclical living relates to a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle, in a broader sense cyclical living is honoring your natural rhythms as a whole – the expansion and contraction of your energy.

  • Seasonal cycles

Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. The four seasons and changes in weather and temperature can affect you more than you may realize. Keeping a journal will allow you to notice patterns in your life and plan for ups and downs in energy.

Cyclical Living Books

There are several books available that go into further detail in regard to cyclical living.  None of these links are sponsored or affiliate and are meant solely as a resource for the reader.

Cyclical living is all about developing your own system to be productive while enjoying the journey.

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