Talent Management

Night Owl or Early Bird, It Helps to Know When You Are Most Productive

night owl

The early bird catches the worm.

I hate that phrase.

I find it irritating because of the origin behind it, the idea that in order to succeed you must wake up and get to work early. I’m going to have to disagree with this concept.

I’m a night owl. I have little desire to be up at 6 am, unless I absolutely must. I’ve tried many times in my career to be like the rest of the working population by being a morning person and one of the first to work. That concept got old real fast.

When people are most productive

I’ve learned that I’m most productive anywhere from 10 am until midnight, sometimes even later. Truthfully, I used to feel in the minority about this viewpoint.

After all, many respected business leaders abide by the idea that success comes right after the sun rises.

What about those who consider themselves night owls? Are we left to starve while the birds eat all the worms?

Luckily, the answer is no.

The productivity of night owls and early birds (otherwise known as people) was conducted and the results were published in the journal Science. The research stated that while all of the participants slept about seven hours a night, the early risers woke up about four hours earlier in the day than the night owls.

The results found that both groups seem to perform similarly on the tasks during the day, but after about 10 hours, the early birds showed lower levels of activity relating to attention when compared with night owls. Apparently, these early birds felt tired and didn’t react as quickly. The researchers claimed that early birds might actually need more sleep than the night owls.

Productivity tips – no matter when you get up

The conclusion? Those who have an inner night owl clock aren’t less efficient and may actually be more productive throughout the day.

Sounds about right to me. Now I do understand some people hold positions where it makes sense for them to be in the office first thing in the morning. For jobs that don’t require an early morning presence, I’m very much in the mindset that people can and should work when they feel most productive.

If you’re a fellow night owl, make sure you maintain high energy levels. Here are some productivity tips to keep your energy levels up no matter what time it is.

  • Make sure you are meeting your own performance expectations. When people see you working hard and meeting your expectations, they are more likely to use you as a role model. Your team members look to you to set the pace and provide a role model for hard work and quality.
  • Make sure you have a clear-cut, long-range goal for yourself. Then establish what you will need to do and what attitudes you will need to have in order to achieve it.
  • Put your action step for your development goals on your daily “to do” list and make it the number-one priority. Do one thing every day, even if it is a small step, to move toward your goals.
  • Typically, your greatest successes will come from leveraging your strengths. Broaden and improve your strengths by finding new ways to use these skills and by pursuing assignments that stretch your skills even farther.

Energy is actually contagious and it can inspire people to get them moving toward achieving their goals, which may actually help them catch that worm. Or something.

Derek Murphy is CEO of TBC , a global assessment company with over four decades of experience, specializing in 360s and survey customization. Our hosting platform, TruScore®, allows you to manage all of your talent management assessments in one central location. Contact him at derek@boothco.com .