When We're Happiest at Work, According to a Data Scientist

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During the workday, when are we our happiest and most productive? Heather Shapiro, a data scientist at smartwatch and technology company Pebble, has a few answers, which she recently posted to the company’s official research blog on Medium.

In June, Pebble debuted the Happiness App, an experimental program that lets wearers log their mood and energy levels throughout the day. The company monitored users’ responses, and noted that happiness slowly grows as the day progresses. It “peaks” twice: once at lunchtime, and again around 7 p.m., as people are presumably relaxing and spending time with loved ones.

It’s hardly a surprise that taking mid-day breaks and socializing after work boosts our emotional wellbeing. But what about when we’re on the job? Thanks to our biological clocks, Shapiro points out, we’re the most alert in the late morning—but our vitality dips between 12 and 4 p.m. and after meals. We’re easily distracted during the day’s latter half—but we gain a second wind (and an improved mood) once we clock out of the office and socialize with friends, eat dinner, and enjoy extracurricular hobbies. Once it’s finally bedtime, our body quickly winds down, signaling it’s time to call it a day.

In short, Pebble's findings suggest that we should focus on important, detail-oriented work in the morning, and fill the afternoon hours with tasks that require less brain power. That way, we'll naturally get more done. And if we really need a mid-day brain boost, we should sneak away for a quick exercise, yoga, or meditation session, as Happiness users reported feeling increased energy levels directly after engaging in these activities.

Even more importantly, we shouldn't neglect our personal lives. Take lunch breaks with co-workers, and try to finish work at a reasonable hour to enjoy a little leisure time before hitting the hay. After all, the most productive employees aren’t the busiest ones—they’re the most rejuvenated.

[h/t Pebble Research]

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