My mom was fond of saying she liked to burn the candle at both ends. She was always up before all of us. And, despite her early wake-ups, she never tucked herself into bed at an all-that-early hour.
Now, I often find myself thinking it. I like the quiet of the morning and being awake before the rest of the city. And I also like the solitude of late nights, though I see fewer of them lately.
It’s one thing to enjoy being up before (or after) everyone else. But, there’s evidence to suggest that each of us has our hours of peak productivity. Sometimes, if I’m writing, I can’t even get the words right, it seems, until sleep is pushing up against me. Sometimes, however, I can feel my body and my mind degrade as the hours become wee-small.
By tuning into your energy levels throughout the day, you can identify when to take on certain tasks.
When are you most present?
If you find you’re most creative and present in the morning, tackle your to-do list early. Start with the most complicated tasks to get them out of the way so you can focus on less taxing activities when your energy level isn’t as high. Early risers’ circadian rhythms are shorter so we sleep through our hours of peak sleepiness. Night owls with slower circadian rhythm who live in a society where they have to wake when they are still in sleep mode should leave tasks that require the most brainpower for later in the day, or better yet, do them the night before.
There’s no advantage to being an early riser or a night owl. Early riser isn’t necessarily more productive. The night owl isn’t necessarily more hard-core. The fact is, studies have shown that your preference to stay up late or wake up early is 50 percent genetic and the other half is shaped by your circumstance and the habits you developed along the way. The key is to witnessing what works for you, and moving forward, without judgment, armed with the knowledge to create a day that leaves you feeling fulfilled.