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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?

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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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