Don’t force yourself to be a morning person - here's why

Early or Late

It’s a common saying, “The early bird catches the worm”. However, recent research suggests this is only applies to around 25% of people. In Daniel H. Pink’s DRIVE,The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , he explains that people are genetically predisposed to be within one of three body-clock groups, and these groups are determined by what time you naturally wake up, the first is for early Birds (those who wake up before 6am), second, night dwellers (those who wake up at or after noon) and third, the general group, those who wake up anywhere in between 6am and noon. Unsurprisingly, around 50% of adults belong to this third group.

Administrations in the morning, Innovations at night

For anyone in the early bird or general group, concentration is at its highest between 10am and 11am, and this has been proven to be the best time to handle in-depth analytical or administrative work. Conversely, it’s harder to negotiate with or persuade colleagues during this particular time, as their propensity to scrutinize is higher. For these groups, their energy, mood and ability to think critically will decrease in the afternoon, hitting rock bottom around 5pm. Daniel’s research shows that people are at their most creative at this time however, as they’re in a much lighter mood, more open to accept new ideas and feel a stronger incentive to socialise. Choire Sicha, Editor of The New York Times Styles magazine, comments that 5pm to 7pm are considered the “magic hours” in the media industry when conducting interviews, as people tend to open up and agree more.

Given that your body-clock heavily influences your attention span, you should make good use of the morning to handle any administrative or work that requires deep focus, and use your early evening to engage more socially with colleagues to build stronger relationships. It’s also a great time for creative problem solving.

When is the best time to schedule meetings?

This depends on two factors, the first is which body-clock group do the other participants belong to, and the second depends on the nature of the meeting itself. If you need to be persuasive or creative you’re better off booking in the early evening. If there are a number of methodical or analytical items on the agenda, and you’re participants belong to the early bird or general group (which they most likely will), then using the golden hours of concentration in the morning would be a better choice. If your meeting agenda is full of tedious, low value work, early afternoon is probably best.

But wait - what if I’m a night owl?

Then I’ve got some good news for you, although numerous studies have shown that morning people are more persistent, self-directed and agreeable, night owls have consistently performed better on measures of memory, processing speed and cognitive ability. Night owls maybe more creative too, with one study even showing that they’re just as healthy and wise as early birds, but actually little be wealthier.

Don’t force yourself to be a morning person

It’s a common saying, “The early bird catches the worm”. However, recent research suggests this is only applies to around 25% of people. In Daniel H. Pink’s DRIVE,The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , he explains that people are genetically predisposed to be within one of three body-clock groups, and these groups are determined by what time you naturally wake up, the first is for early Birds (those who wake up before 6am), second, night dwellers (those who wake up at or after noon) and third, the general group, those who wake up anywhere in between 6am and noon. Unsurprisingly, around 50% of adults belong to this third group.

Administrations in the morning, Innovations at night

For anyone in the early bird or general group, concentration is at its highest between 10am and 11am, and this has been proven to be the best time to handle in-depth analytical or administrative work. Conversely, it’s harder to negotiate with or persuade colleagues during this particular time, as their propensity to scrutinize is higher. For these groups, their energy, mood and ability to think critically will decrease in the afternoon, hitting rock bottom around 5pm. Daniel’s research shows that people are at their most creative at this time however, as they’re in a much lighter mood, more open to accept new ideas and feel a stronger incentive to socialise. Choire Sicha, Editor of The New York Times Styles magazine, comments that 5pm to 7pm are considered the “magic hours” in the media industry when conducting interviews, as people tend to open up and agree more.

Given that your body-clock heavily influences your attention span, you should make good use of the morning to handle any administrative or work that requires deep focus, and use your early evening to engage more socially with colleagues to build stronger relationships. It’s also a great time for creative problem solving.

When is the best time to schedule meetings?

This depends on two factors, the first is which body-clock group do the other participants belong to, and the second depends on the nature of the meeting itself. If you need to be persuasive or creative you’re better off booking in the early evening. If there are a number of methodical or analytical items on the agenda, and you’re participants belong to the early bird or general group (which they most likely will), then using the golden hours of concentration in the morning would be a better choice. If your meeting agenda is full of tedious, low value work, early afternoon is probably best.

But wait - what if I’m a night owl?

Then I’ve got some good news for you, although numerous studies have shown that morning people are more persistent, self-directed and agreeable, night owls have consistently performed better on measures of memory, processing speed and cognitive ability. Night owls maybe more creative too, with one study even showing that they’re just as healthy and wise as early birds, but actually little be wealthier.

Naomi Chan

Career Coach and professional career hacker at Team Vanna

4 min read

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