I am a morning person. I love getting up before the sun rises and the rest of my family stirs. I love going out for a run in the dark when the only vehicles around are delivering the morning papers and coming home to a quiet house. I also do some of my best work at the crack of dawn. That is when my mind is most clear and focused and the words flow onto the paper most easily.
I understand however, that not all people are programmed this way. Some people, including those in my own family, are slow to get started in the morning. They can hardly form a coherent sentence without a cup of coffee and require at least an hour or two before performing any complex tasks on the job. These same people however are able to stay sharp and focused well into the night while I am nodding off in front of the television.
Different people have different internal rhythms and thus their peaks and lulls occur at different points in the day. Some people are lucky enough to match these rhythms to those of their jobs. For example, night owl corporate attorneys who regularly work well into the night but aren’t expected to be at their desks until 10 or 11 a.m. or bakers who are up in time to have the whole neighborhood smelling like fresh bread by the time the sun rises. The rest of us, however, have to work with what we have.
Hopefully we know ourselves well enough to know which careers would be completely unsuited to our own internal rhythms. For example, I know myself well enough to know that I would have a terrible time as a bartender in a place like New York City, where these establishments are open until around the time I usually wake up.
After that, we need to figure out how to make our schedules work for us. For example, if you regularly bring work home give some thought to when you are actually most productive. It may serve you well to forget all about that work for the evening, have a nice dinner and go to bed early so you can wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. to address it. Even within your workday, if you know you are more effective in the later part of the day, you can save all your easier rote tasks for the mornings. Knowing these things about yourself will help you to use your time more productively and avoid wasting time on projects when you are nowhere near your peak performance.
Are you a morning person, a night owl, or something in between? How do you reconcile this with your work schedule?