Menstrual cycles are a natural and normal part of life for women, yet often overlooked regarding productivity and peak performance. Harnessing the power of our menstrual cycle to maximize productivity is a concept that is still relatively new and unknown and definitely not something you think about in workplaces or in terms of work culture. However, understanding our unique cycle and the natural rhythm of our female bodies and how it affects our motivation, creativity, and energy can have a significant impact on our success rate, how we work and how we live, and most importantly: Our well-being and health.
The menstrual cycle is divided into three distinct phases:
Each phase has its own characteristics and can influence our productivity differently. During the pre-ovulatory phase, estrogen levels rise and our energy is high. This is a great time to tackle challenging tasks and take on new projects. During the ovulatory phase, our estrogen levels peak, and our creativity are at its highest. This is the perfect time to brainstorm and come up with innovative ideas. Lastly, the post-ovulatory phase is marked by lower estrogen and decreased energy. During this time, focusing on recovery, organizing, planning and reviewing is important.
In my ovulatory phase, my instincts, energy, communication skills and creativity skyrocket in an almost supernatural way – in this phase it is a good idea to come up with creative ideas, develop stuff and to take action.
I keep a close eye on the natural hormone fluctuations of my body and use them to benefit my work and collaboration with others. In the pre-ovulatory phase, when my energy is rising to new levels, I know it is a good idea to plan out stuff and start organizing building blocks. In my ovulatory phase, my instincts, energy, communication skills, and creativity skyrocket in an almost supernatural way – in this phase, it is a good idea to come up with creative ideas, develop stuff, and take action. Put your deadlines here.
When I finally reach the post-ovulatory phase and the first day of menstruation, I enter a different mindset and energy. This phase is good for reflection, reviews, and connecting with your inner self. This phase also requires a lot of rest: Deadlines, working out, pushy colleagues, and pushing your limits are totally forbidden here.
Imagine having more insights into this, not only on a personal level but in workplaces and on a business level. Would we plan out development sprints in a completely different way? Would the early morning meetings and daily stand-ups look different? Would we do projects differently? I'm not suggesting we adjust everything according to the lunar phases and women's ovulatory rhythm; all I am suggesting is that we start acknowledging this – women and men are different, and we have different strengths, needs, and skills.
This affects both our performance, productivity and most importantly: Our health. Is it a wonder that so many women have hormonal issues, get burned out and suffer from abnormal testosterone levels?
The work- and business culture is predominantly male and mimics the male hormone rhythm and patterns
Healthy males have high testosterone and energy in the morning, constantly around the clock. Constant production. Because of this, men also have substantially more energy than women, and for a good cause. Women are wired to economize their energy in entirely different ways, and we need a lot more rest and recovery (especially in the post-ovulatory phase).
Suppose you look up advice for "How to become a successful entrepreneur" or "Why are these Steve Jobs entrepreneurs so successful?". In that case, you are often recommended to wake up early in the morning and go out for a run, and other recommendations that just doesn't do it for women. It fits men, and I can understand that successful men have early morning exercises and meetings as a routine because it benefits men's overall health and productivity. However, this is not beneficial to women, but we are adjusted to the male rhythm, both in life and at work – and we are expected to deliver on this, think and act like men, and be at the same level as men, mimicking the male rhythm and energy levels.
This affects our performance, productivity, and, most importantly: Our health. Is it a wonder that so many women have hormonal issues, get burned out, and suffer from abnormal testosterone levels? Also, what characteristics does this person have when you think of a successful business owner, business leader, or manager? What kind of women are usually promoted as managers and bosses? Let that sink in for a moment.
As a business owner, I implement this, and I'm not joking when I say that we plan out dev sprints the female way and acknowledging that we are cyclic – and we are totally owning it by the way, with cycle-sync strategies. Both individually and as a team.
By understanding our unique cycle and adjusting our productivity strategies accordingly, we can maximize our performance and get the most out of our days and lives. For example, if we know that our energy levels are low during the post-ovulatory phase, we can plan to focus on smaller, less challenging tasks during that time and save the more difficult ones for the pre-ovulatory phase. Additionally, scheduling creative tasks and brainstorming sessions during the ovulatory phase can help us develop innovative ideas and solutions. As a business owner, I implement this, and I'm not joking when I say that I plan out dev sprints the female way and acknowledge that we are cyclic – and we are totally owning it, by the way, with cycle-sync strategies. Both individually and as a team.