The Following Your Rhythm Approach

Every person has their own rhythm for living, working and resting. Some people learn to find and follow their chosen rhythm. They are then able to channel their energy in a positive way.

This can work well if they are working alone. If they are working with others – such as individuals, teams and organisations – they may need to recognise and manage other people’s styles.

Some people do this successfully but others sometimes lose their own rhythm. This can lead to them feeling strangers to themselves.

Imagine that you want to pursue your preferred way of working whilst recognising and, when appropriate, managing other people’s rhythm. Here are some steps to consider.

Finding and following
your own rhythm

You will have different rhythms for different activities. So start by selecting a specific activity where you want to find and follow your preferred pattern.

Different people do this in different ways. One person began looking at their preferred way of working in the following way. They said:

“I chose to focus on my working week. Some of my work was satisfying, but sometimes I felt disjointed. It seemed like I was fitting into other people’s patterns, rather than my own.

“Some give-and-take is obviously necessary when you work for a company. After all, the business won’t change to fit your rules, but things felt out of sync. So I sat down and planned the best way to follow my natural rhythm during the working week.

“My first step was to identify when and where I worked best. My most productive times in the office are in the morning – between 7.30 and 11.30. So I organised my diary to, as far as possible, be in charge of my own agenda during those times.

“My most creative work is done in a quiet place away from interruptions. So I found a quiet corner to work on my laptop away from the open plan office.

“I felt quite energetic working in the office on Monday and Tuesday, but then wanted to be on the road, visiting clients. So that is how I arranged my diary. Meeting customers on Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday spent working from home.

“Internal meetings remained a challenge. I preferred meeting where I knew the purpose and agenda, rather than those that drifted. Bearing this in mind, I did two things.

“First, I emailed my boss the day before our regular catch ups to outline what I wanted to discuss. I did this diplomatically, of course, underlining we would be following his agenda.

“Second, when asked to attend other internal meetings, I requested the agenda before I accepted the request.

“Taking these steps helped me to be much more productive. I now feel more in sync with my preferred working pattern.”

Different people choose different ways to set up and follow their rhythm. Here are some steps they take. You will, of course, adapt these in your own way.

Great workers often organise their time into blocks. They follow this pattern whether they are planning a day, a week, a month or a longer period of time.

A person may prepare by following their chosen ritual. They relax, refocus and rehearse what they are going to do next. They click into action and go into their version of the arena.

Fully present, they aim to flow, focus and finish. They do their best to deliver the desired results. Such a person may then take time to reflect. They relax, refocus and rehearse. They then repeat the process on the way to doing good work.

Imagine that you have found the rhythm you want to follow. You can then be positively engaged and pursue it in your own way. This can be rewarding, but it is also important to take care of yourself.

Peak performers focus on getting results, but they recognise this calls for building in times for rest and recovery. Failing to do so can mean they crash and burn.

Different people have different ways of regaining energy. You may choose to sleep, walk, listen to music, play sports or whatever. It can be useful to find and follow your own way to rest and recover. This can help you to deliver even better results.

Following your rhythm
when pursuing a road map

This approach involves following your rhythm when pursuing a road map on the way towards achieving the desired results. It involves starting from the destination and working backwards.

You can aim:

To clarify the results to achieve;

To make a road map towards achieving those results;

To then follow your rhythm when pursuing the road map on the way towards achieving the results.

The key will be to follow your rhythm, manage and challenges and do your best to achieve the results.

Following your rhythm whilst
managing other people’s rhythm

It can be helpful to follow your rhythm. You may also wish to find ways to deal with situations where the people, team or organisation has a different working pattern.

Organisations have the right to set their own working style, so it is important to recognise their rhythm. This does not necessarily mean, of course, that the approach they choose is effective.

It can be useful to take the following steps when working in an organisation.

Step One:

To, whenever possible, follow your rhythm for delivering results.

Step Two:

To recognise the organisation’s rhythm – such as the way it schedules meetings, the business cycle and any other events;

To prepare properly to make your best contribution to these events;

To make a positive contribution to the events and help the organisation to deliver its desired results.

Step Three:

To then take time to relax, regain your own rhythm and continue to deliver results.

Sometimes you may also encounter individuals whose style creates challenges. Let’s explore this theme.

Following your own rhythm whilst learning
how to manage other people’s rhythm

You will have a preferred way of working, listening and communicating with people. But there will be many occasions when you meet people who have different styles.

Imagine that you like to reflect before speaking. Sometimes you will work with people who talk quickly and demand a response. How to deal with such a situation?

It can be useful to pause, buy time to think and then give a professional response. One person explained how they took this approach in the following way.

“I used to have difficulty with managers who spoke quickly and aimed to spur others into action.

“My own style is more reflective. But, for a while, I tried to match the quick talkers and respond.

“Later I learned to be calm. I did this by learning to breathe properly, listen fully and try to summarise what a manager had said.

“Then I spoke in my own speed, reassuring them that I would fix things. If necessary, I checked information to make sure I was clear on what they wanted and by when.

“Whilst I absorbed information in my own way, the key was to then quickly produce results. This helped me to retain my sanity and also satisfy the manager.”

This approach can work when you plan ahead and prepare properly.

Sometimes you may be interrupted unexpectedly, however, when deep into a piece of work. Let’s explore this theme.

Managing transitions
between activities

Great workers often immerse themselves deeply in their chosen activity. This has huge benefits, but there can also be challenges. They may be deeply engaged in an activity but then be interrupted.

This can throw them off-course. When does this happen for you? You may need to stop what you are doing and aim:

To give full attention to a loved one – your child, partner or another person … To manage your manager who wants to talk with you urgently … To deal with an unexpected event or crisis.

There are many ways to make such transitions. One approach is to go through the following steps.

You enjoy doing deep work, but then there is an interruption. Seeing things in perspective, you believe it is important to make a good transition to the next activity. One approach is to take the following steps.


Relax your mind and body. Breathe deeply and buy time to think, even if only for a few seconds.


Clarify the real results you want to achieve in the next situation. You can then rehearse how to achieve these aims.  


Focus fully on the new situation and move into action. Be totally aware of what is happening and do your best to achieve the desired results.

Tom Weede wrote an article on this theme called Learning From Biathletes. Writing in Men’s Fitness, he described how athletes competing in the biathlon must switch from high intensity skiing to the calmness required to shoot at a target.

This calls for stopping, concentrating fully when shooting and then regaining their former rhythm. Here is an excerpt from the article where he describes the skills that biathletes employ.

De-stress In Seconds

As a result of the alternating demands of furious cardio and calm precision, these biathletes have to know how to relax and focus in highly stressful situations.  

Remain Calm

On days when you’ll be called upon to do something stressful, practise staying relaxed throughout the day — as opposed to hastily trying to compose yourself when you’re about to give a presentation or line up a one-metre putt.

Breathe Deeply

In addition to being in good condition, biathletes increase their ability to relax and lower their heart rates by breathing correctly, deeply inhaling and exhaling as they approach the shooting range during a race.  

Make It Mechanical

One way to reduce stress is by practising something over and over until it becomes automatic.

But biathletes can miss their targets, just as the rest of us miss free throws or lose our train of thought. So what happens if you fall out of the automatic mode and mess up?  

“You definitely have to stop,” says team member Jeremy Teela, who deals with such times by taking two breaths, closing his eyes for a second and then starting over.  

“I jump back into it, just like I would if it was a new shooting,” he says.

“And then I shoot the next shots just as fast as normal … so I totally clear what I just did (from my mind) and then start over.”

There are many aspects to following your rhythm. This section concludes by considering the following theme. 

Great workers do things at the right pace to get positive results. Some things need to be done slowly. Some things need to be done quickly.

Sometimes it can be hard to answer the question: “What is the right pace for doing things?” One possible answer is: “The right pace is the one that gets the right results.”

Peak performers sometimes spend a lot of time clarifying the real results they want to achieve before moving into action. They may then do some tasks extremely quickly, whilst others they may do slowly and deliberately.

Such workers also learn to manage their energy as they get older. They aim: a) to manage their physical energy; b) to manage their psychological energy.

They learn to rest, recover and then be fully present in order to deliver positive results. Sometimes this also involves taking the following steps to deal with challenges.

Great workers aim to keep following their rhythm but can be thrown off-course by events. Such workers often plan how to deal with such situations.

Different people do this in different ways. One approach is for them to plan ahead and work through the following framework.

The specific event that could
interrupt my rhythm could be:


The specific things I can do to
respond well to this event are:


The specific things I can then
do to regain my rhythm are:


Such people buy time to think when encountering events. They may then aim: a) to clarify their options for dealing with the situation; b) to pursue their chosen option; c) to then regain their rhythm.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Can you think of a situation where you may want to follow the rhythm approach? How can you do this in your own way?

What may be the specific situation? How can you rehearse what you are going to do? How can you follow your chosen rhythm? How can you then do your best to achieve the desired results?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>