Ladies, whether we like it or not, every month we have to deal with the inconvenience of menstruation. From headaches to cramps and everything in between, our period is not a pleasant visitor, it can have a direct impact on our motivation and focus. But how do you plan around it? Is there a way to use your menstrual cycle to figure out when you are more likely to be productive? There is and it is called menstrual cycle mapping. Read on to find out more.
The impact of menstruation
In a male-dominated society, it can be hard for a woman’s voice to be heard. The real impact of menstruation on women in society is completely underestimated. Recent research has shown that period pain is linked to on average nine days of lost productivity each year in the workplace and schools. 1 in 7 women felt the need to take time off because of their period and many women claimed that this happened during nearly every cycle. 81% of women in this study of Dutch women said they are less productive during the menstrual phase of their cycle.
Still a taboo topic, periods are not often talked about in everyday conversation and this needs to change. So many women suffer in silence with their periods and are expected to perform and be as productive as the rest of the month. But did you know your hormones can negatively affect your mood, energy levels, and cognitive functioning? Science confirms that during that phase of your cycle when you menstruate, you are more likely to struggle to concentrate, complete tasks, and feel confident and successful in your abilities. So, let’s dive into the four phases of your female cycle and how you can map out the best times to rest and the best times to be productive. Don’t work against your period ladies, work with it!
Your inner Winter
This part of your cycle is when you experience your period. During this time, progesterone and estrogen levels plunge and you may feel a sense of relief when your period arrives. Your energy will be low and you may feel introverted and introspective. Productivity-wise, you may want to consider having this part of the month dedicated to your ideas and administration tasks. Go slowly through this phase and be kind to yourself. If you don’t feel motivated to study or work hard, then that’s okay. Now is the time to recharge and take things one step at a time. This isn’t the time to complete major projects or to cram in a five-hour long study session.
Your inner Spring
The follicular phase of your cycle is just after your period is over. Your progesterone remains low but your levels of estrogen are rising, as your body prepares for ovulation, you will have a lift in your energy levels and you are feeling more confident and willing to take risks. During this phase, you will feel ready to tackle any of the tasks you couldn’t complete the week before. This is the perfect time to make decisions regarding work and study. Maybe schedule job interviews or do some extra study sessions during this week.
Your inner Summer
Around days 12-14 of your cycle is called your ovulatory phase. You are at your most fertile at this point in your cycle and your skin will be glowing as a result. It’s during this phase that you are feeling the most confident, you will feel motivated and ready to take on the biggest challenges. So if it’s possible to be flexible with your work or study schedule, this week is the best time to do a big presentation, write an important essay, or cram in as many study sessions as possible. This is the week where you will have an increase in focus on motivation and feel ready to take on the world. Call it the magic week if you will, but this is when you will feel your best and you should use this time wisely to get stuff done!
Your inner Autumn
The luteal phase is when you should be winding down and preparing for your menstrual phase. You might experience a drop in your energy again and crave some of your favorite comfort foods. This phase is often when some women experience something called PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Physically and emotionally, you may not feel your best, so be aware that during this week you might not be the most productive. Schedule some of the more challenging things on your to-do list during your inner spring and inner summer phases, this phase is for slowing down and focusing on your wellbeing.
Plan your productivity
The key is to work with your cycle instead of against it. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work around a woman’s body and we can’t always plan everything in our lives around it. However, it is important as women that we understand the nature of our cycle and what season we are in. If you are a planner and you like to look ahead, knowing the way your body works and how your hormones directly impact your productivity can help you design a study schedule or plan out your work tasks accordingly.
For me, I have noticed that during my inner autumn and winter phases I spend more time reading, researching, and coming up with ideas, as my energy levels are lower and I prefer a slower pace of work. Whereas during my inner spring and inner summer phases, I feel a burst of energy, I feel more motivated and inspired and it’s easier for me to pen more words to the page. I have learned to notice the patterns between my period and my productivity and how my hormones impact my concentration and productivity.
Menstrual cycle mapping is a great way for you to reclaim your life and productivity. Syncing your study and work schedule to the current phase in your cycle is the best way to take charge of the way your body and mind work. I also suggest that you download a period tracker app on your phone, this is a great way to remember what phase you are in. I will leave with you this quote from Alisa Vittie, a woman’s menstrual health expert and creator of the MyFlo app “Women are seeking to shift the imbalances created by the patriarchy, we must stop modeling our lives on a masculine biochemical 24-hour schedule. It’s time to work based on a female paradigm of productivity, success, and fulfillment.” And my response to that is, let’s become the best version of ourselves ladies, take control and work with nature instead of against it. It’s time to sync our way to success!