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This Is Why Morning People Are More Likely To Be Successful (Backed By Science)

This Is Why Morning People Are More Likely To Be Successful (Backed By Science)

Night people (those who are most alert at night, and typically stay up long after dark) might be a bit smarter than morning people, according to a report published by Roberts and Kyllonen in a 1999 issue of Personality and Individual Differences. But, morning people (those who are up and about early in the morning, roughly the same time even on weekends) are more likely to be successful.

That might come as a shocker to you, but it is scientifically proven. Here’s why morning people are likely to be more successful than night or evening people, backed by science:

1.   They are more proactive

Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, reported in a paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that morning people are more proactive than evening types. He described proactivity as the willingness and ability to take action to change a situation to one’s advantage.

Because morning people tend to be more proactive than evening people, they do well in business, Randler said. In an interview on Harvard Business Review Randler noted:

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“When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. They tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities.”

This finding makes sense because, in theory, earlier in the morning is when your mind is most rested, your motivation highest and there is relatively less distractions. The mind is most creative at night, but most productive in the morning. This might explain why morning people tend to rule the world – winning the promotions and high level contracts.

2.   They are less prone to bad habits and drug abuse.

Not that evening types are always ill-mannered and drug dependent. Actually, night owls are smarter and more creative. But, morning “larks” hit the sack early at a respectable evening hour (typically in bed before 11 p.m.). That seems to make them a little less vulnerable than night people to bad habits—namely, drinking, smoking, and even infidelity.

A number of studies support this assertion. One study of 537 individuals comprising of professionals and students with different but regular work schedules found that night types consume more alcohol than morning larks. Another study of 676 adults from a Finnish Twin Cohort found that night people were much more likely to be current or lifelong smokers, much less likely to stop smoking, and at much higher risk for nicotine dependence as per diagnostic criteria compared with morning folks.

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These findings are not entirely surprising considering that the nightlife is more conducive to drinking and infidelity.

3.   They are conscientious, less showy, and thus more agreeable

The tendency to drink and smoke more among night people is associated with a trait that psychologists call “novelty-seeking” or simply NS.

According to PhyscologyToday, NS is “a personality trait associated with exploratory activity where someone seeks new and exciting stimulation and responds strongly from the surge of dopamine and adrenaline released when anyone has a novel experience.”

Numerous studies have linked night people with this “novelty-seeking” characteristic. Randler and a colleague also studied the relationship between morningness–eveningness and temperament in adolescents ages 12 to 18. They found that evening types tend to display an extravagance in approach to reward cues (showoffs.) Morning people are more conscientious and less showy, and thus more agreeable. Agreeableness is a positive trait that can help in the pursuit of success, though not always.

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4.   They procrastinate less

A 1997 study led by delay researcher Joseph Ferrari of DePaul looked at college students and found that trait procrastinators referred to themselves as “night” people. Ferrari discovered there is a link between procrastinating behaviors and a general preference to do activities in the evenings. This finding that evening people tend to be worse procrastinators was based on six days of daily task records.

In 2008, a team of researchers that included Ferrari did a follow up study on procrastination. This time they looked at adults with a mean age of 50. The findings of the earlier study held true. Once again night people were associated more with avoiding tasks that needed to be completed. The 2008 study was reported in the Journal of General Psychology.

Given that putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before a deadline can create problems, the researchers also hinted that this general tendency to delay tasks until nighttime may cost night people career success. That’s particularly true at jobs where strong daytime work ethics are expected or required.

5.   They have better moods and tend to be happier

That’s the argument that was put forth in a 2012 paper by Dr. Lynn Hasher and Renee Biss, psychologists at University of Toronto. The researchers assessed a sample of 297 older adults (59 to 79) and 435 young adults (17 to 38) on their current moods, as well as their preference to mornings or nights. They found that morning people were generally happier and more alert than their peers who sleep in.

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One reason night people might find it harder to stay alert and feel less happy than morning people is because of the disconnect between their nighttime preferences and conventional daytime expectations. Generally, night people are out of sync with the typical day-to-day schedule. They often have to force themselves to wake up early and perform at their peak during the day, which leaves them emotionally drained, and can even cause them sleep loss. Social scientists call this effect “social jetlag.”

For morning people, everything is as it should be. Morning people are happy with the typical day’s schedule.

“Waking up early may indeed make one happy as a lark,” wrote the researchers.

And who’s to say when you’re happy and alert and proactive you can’t perform better?

Featured photo credit: Stephanie Brooks via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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