Are you a morning or evening person? We tend to be one or the other and in fact I’ve found that it can change during different stages of life. Some of us start out being night owls and then as we get older we find ourselves naturally getting up earlier.
Of course we can train our bodies to be one or the other depending on current commitments. Who hasn’t stayed up until the early hours trying to meet a deadline? However I’m talking about your natural body rhythms. If you find your mind wandering at certain times of the day, it might be time to change what you do when.
Early bird or night owl?
Do you automatically wake up before your alarm in the morning and jump out of bed ready to start the day? Do you feel “fresh” first thing in the morning and able to concentrate easily? Do you hit a familiar mid-afternoon slump and struggle through the latter half of the day? Don’t force yourself to stay up late trying to get through your to-do list. Work with your natural body clock and get to bed early so you can get up early.
Or do you drag yourself out of bed and feel lethargic in the mornings? Do you find yourself getting fired up in the afternoon and look forward to burning the midnight oil? If you’re like a bear with a sore head in the morning, it’s just not your thing. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll get up at 6 am every morning, go for a run and then start work because in my experience, it’s not going to happen! You’ll set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t set your alarm at an unrealistic time if you’re just going to hit snooze when it jolts you awake. Set your alarm clock at a reasonably early and realistic time, and get some uninterrupted sleep.
Speaking of sleep, we all need it and some more than others. I’m sure you have an idea of your optimum amount of sleep each night. Aim to get this amount of shuteye every night. It’s not always going to happen but if you know your body needs 8 hours sleep and you only get 3 nights in a row of 5-6 hours, your body will crash.
Determine your best working times
Whether you’re a morning or evening person will determine your best working times during the day. For example I’m a morning person. My optimum wake-up time would be between 5 and 6 am (having gone to bed at about 10 pm). I need about 7 – 8 hours sleep a night. I have the kids’ school run between 7 and 9 am, so I make the most of my mornings by working from 5 – 7 am, except for my personal training sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 am. I have trained my body to work to this schedule. I always make sure I’m in bed by 10 pm at the latest so I often wake before my alarm.
First thing in the morning, I work on emails, social media and planning for my day. I also go into writing mode or numbers mode (as long as it doesn’t involve foreign currency, as that does my head in!) After the school drop off at 9 am, I’m fired up and ready to get into the nitty-gritty stuff until about 2 pm, when my energy levels and concentration drop off.
So for me, my best working times are 5 – 7 am and 9 – 2 pm. I aim to work on tasks which require more in-depth concentration and focus during those times. Other tasks such as admin, paperwork and catching up on reading blogs are done outside these times. It doesn’t always happen this way but I know if I stick to those guidelines, I am operating at my optimum level.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Identify your best working times of day and ensure your high level thinking tasks are scheduled for those times. If not, make some changes and see what difference it makes to your productivity, energy levels and sense of achievement.
P.S. Want to learn more about how to work at your best time?
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