When was the last time you wished you started on that piece of work just an hour ago? Procrastination is an inherent habit that seems to amplify when not being able to wake up early in the morning.
Read any piece of advice for productivity, and you’ll come across incorporating this one habit: be a morning person. As the advice goes, such people have all the time on the earth to exercise, meditate, have a balanced diet, visit the moon and back, and whatnot.
While it may seem like those morning birdies are able to meet deadlines quicker (along with maintaining a clear skin), trying to keep up with them might do you more harm than good. According to research, the internal clock that runs our body rarely matches the external watch that runs our day.
As a matter of fact, about 80% of people’s working schedules clash with their internal clocks.
Meaning, a person can get up early and still be stuck with their work while you can synchronize your schedule with the body to meet deadlines before time.
What makes you a morning person: the science behind peak working hours
Getting up in the morning and getting off to a new, fresh start is more than sticking to your alarm clock. Your body has a lot to do with genetics and biology to determine if you’re a morning person.
According to sleep researchers, each person’s body goes through energy highs and lows throughout the day. It is known as a Circadian Rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, they are “24-hour internal clocks that run in the background of a person’s brain and cycles at regular intervals between sleepiness and alertness.”
Every person’s Circadian Rhythm is unique, but most of us follow a somewhat similar pattern. Here’s how an average morning person’s rhythm works:
6:30-7:00 am: The brain steps out of the sleep mode and starts to energize.
10:00-11:00 am: Concentration, alertness, and memory get at the peak.
2:00-3:00 pm: Energy level diminishes drastically (the afternoon slump).
4:00-6:00 pm: Focus and energy are at a spike again.
9:00-11:00 pm: The brain shifts back to its sleep mode, secreting melatonin to assist in resting.
Even if you try to follow the cycle that I mentioned above, you still need to fight with your body’s needs at some points of the day. For instance, you may feel sleepy at very odd hours and won’t be able to work at all.
BTW, do you know how IS THE CORONA PANDEMIC RESHAPING WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT?
It is a bit tricky to determine your own Circadian Rhythm, but even if you do, how would you deal with someone who has a totally different rhythm than you? Would you be able to meet deadlines as anticipated?
When should you work? 03 BEST methods to determine the peak working hours and meet deadlines faster
While you cannot take control over when to work, you can surely optimize your workday when you know your chronotype. A chronotype is a scientific term for the variation in circadian rhythms. The more you can align your body’s natural highs and lows with your work schedule, the sooner you can meet deadlines.
Here are some ways in which you can discover your chronotype:
1. Take the AutoMEQ (Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire) Test:
You can try taking the AutoMEQ test right now if you have 5-10 minutes of spare time. It is a questionnaire with 19 questions that comes up with your probable chronotype at the end of the test. It asks you questions like what’s your usual bedtime, at what time you wake up when idle, how much do you rely on an alarm clock, your alertness level at different instances of the day.
Here’s an example of one of the questions asked in AutoMEQ.
2. Daniel Pink’s 3-Question Test:
Author Daniel H. Pink, in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, proposes a 3-questions test for self-assessment of chronotype. the questions are:
1. What is your bedtime on days when you don’t need to wake up a specific time?
2. At what time do you wake up on those days?
3. What is the midpoint of both the times? (For instance, if you go to bed at 2 am and wake up at 10 am, then your midpoint is 6 am.)
This midpoint, then, decides if you’re a morning person or a night owl:
Before 3:30 am: You’re a birdie (meaning, you prefer to wake up earlier than usual).
After 5:30 am: You’re an owl (meaning, you prefer to wake up later than usual).
In-between: You’re a third bird (meaning, you fall in the category of the usual).
Both the approaches mentioned above might seem alluring, but have one common error- they rely on self-reporting the accurate information. And after years of forced schedules of schooling and working, late-night binge-watching, early-morning exercising, added with other social obligations, self-assessment actually falls far from honest.
However, there’s a way to get scientific about it.
3. Analyze Personal Data to get a detailed Productivity Graph
Your personal data can reveal a lot about your working pattern and can assist you in determining the peak hours when you stay the most focused on your work-related activities.
Various tools track and measure your productivity in real-time so that you can see the difference between what you say and what you do during your working hours. All-in-all, it acts as a mirror to reflect your usual time to meet deadlines, whenever assigned a task.
To accomplish this, various companies use software like EmpMonitor, which tracks and records the work performed by the employees and analyzes it on your behalf.
Using EmpMonitor assists you in avoiding natural biases. It also makes it more comfortable to pick up the obstacles that come in the way of completing tasks and work on them accordingly.
Here’s a quick glimpse of a daily productive time of an employee by EmpMonitor.
This report will assist an employee in determining when they stay the most productive and if they need to rectify something to meet deadlines faster in the future.
05 Ways for Night Owls to meet deadlines in a 9-5 World
Understanding and determining your chronotype is not the end of the discussion. You need to utilize it to find solutions for the main issues.
Many employees don’t have flexible working shifts. Meaning, they cannot align their work according to their sleep cycle. And, as we all know, there’s no hard reset to your circadian rhythm.
Here’s how you can get going with your peers despite not being a morning person:
1. Wake up on the SAME Time (on weekends too)
Your body doesn’t differentiate your weekends from the rest of the days. You may feel like sleeping for longer hours on Sundays, but it is just going to confuse your inner clock and disrupt your cycle. Extending your sleep schedule by 2-3 hours on a Sunday will hit your body with a dose of jetlag on Monday morning, causing the blues.
It does not mean that you cannot rest on the weekends. You can, definitely, sleep a bit longer during the daytime and try not to disrupt the regular routine too much.
2. Align your Productive hours with important tasks
It doesn’t matter which chronotype you fall in- your body has some peak hours when you stay more productive than usual. If you can take advantage of these few hours by lining up and scheduling the tasks that require more focus, then you will never struggle to meet deadlines.
As a matter of fact, people, on average, stay the most productive for 2 hours and 48 minutes at a stretch during their peak time. Assessing and analyzing every employee’s working schedule has assisted various employers in enhancing their overall productivity.
3. Make mornings more bearable with the RISEUP method
When you’re not a morning person, you usually don’t care about all the hype around keeping up with a morning routine. However, here are a few things that you can do to make those morning hours less painful.
Follow the RISEUP acronym:
Refrain from snoozing the alarms.
Increase the first-hour activity
Shower or wash your face after brushing.
Expose yourself to direct sunlight.
Upbeat music will lift the mood.
Phone a close friend.
The combination of all the activities that I have mentioned above will let you manipulate your circadian rhythm in believing that you’re fresh to go. Make sure you get up at least an hour before your WFH routine starts and follow these steps. You will feel more productive than EVER!
4. Schedule breaks according to Ultradian method
Your internal clock comprises another rhythm apart from the circadian one- the ultradian rhythm. These are short intervals of 90-120 minutes sessions of alertness before one needs a break. If you observe carefully, we sometimes get the urge to get up from our places only after completing a particular task, and actually end up finishing it faster than expected.
You can utilize this habit to meet deadlines for your next task by scheduling the creative work just before you usually take a break, for instance, before lunch hour. Try to work on the monotonous tasks when continually sitting on your desks and schedule your breaks accordingly.
5. Get along with the Morning peeps
When you’re not a morning person, you not only battle with your internal system, you also battle with the people who peak earlier in the day.
Here are a few tips to how can the morning and afternoon people get along at the workplace:
1. Set and Follow Ground Rules: Try to set times for group tasks when both the chronotypes feel the most energetic and attentive. Use asynchronous communication like chat, email, texts, etc. Hold video conferences during peak hours. You can identify such peak times by assessing your employees’ everyday schedule using employee monitoring tools like EmpMonitor.
2. Maintain Clear Communication: Having a transparent work environment is fundamental to maintaining healthy relationships among the staff. Be clear about what you’re experiencing, share your thoughts with your peers, let them know your ideas, and try to accomplish a task together to maintain a sense of harmony.
3. Have Mutual Respect: Despite the differences in your chronotypes, always keep in mind that a morning person is not better than a night owl or vice-versa. A person’s productivity depends a lot on their work management and interest in their work. One may start early and finish late, but yet cannot guarantee if they can meet deadlines faster. Be mindful of the needs of your coworkers, and learn to respect them all.
Always Get Your Performance At Peak!!
The wall clock runs most of our days, but the inner clock runs our bodies. Synchronizing with this energy is very fundamental to increasing productivity and finishing tasks beforehand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a morning person or not. You can always meet deadlines when working strategically.
Use any of the methods mentioned above to determine your chronotype and follow it in a way that it sticks to your work routine. Adhering to an arbitrary schedule can work wonders if done in accordance with our internal clock. Getting along with colleagues and clients with a different rhythm than you is mandatory, and one must know how to handle it efficiently.
Did I miss something? Have a suggestion or a query? Do you want to add something? Drop your thoughts in the comments below- I would love to hear from you.