I bet you’ve heard this quote before:
“The early bird gets the worm…” – William Camden
Perhaps you’ve heard it in reference to your own sleeping habits. There are numerous articles on the web where writers tell you that one of the best ways to become more productive is to get up early. By doing so, you get a jumpstart on the rest of the world and reap the benefits of a quiet work environment — among other things.
Yet for the amount of articles that all about getting up early, there are many people who struggle to do just that. I’m one of them. I’ve tried time and time again to get up early, to “reset my internal clock” to make that happen…and I can’t seem to make it stick. While failure isn’t the worst thing in the world when it comes to this (and other efforts, for that matter), after trying to become an early riser more times than I can remember, this quote came to mind:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
Now I wasn’t doing the exact same thing each time I made an effort to change my sleeping and waking habits, but I realized that the act of trying to change my habits was the problem. That’s where the insanity was coming into play. I was frustrated that I simply couldn’t do what I thought I should be able to do — and I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working.
And then it came to me: I’m not meant to be an early riser. I am a night owl and I needed to embrace that rather than fight it.
Further to that, I examined how somebody who’s a night owl could essentially “hack their day” in the same way as an early riser does. Perhaps not surprisingly, the same benefits that apply to early risers can belong to night owls too.
If you’re up past the bedtimes of those in your home, then you’re going to get the same sense of quiet that the early riser gets. Plus, if you woke up later in the morning, you won’t be as tired when you get down to whatever you plan to do with that quiet time because you’ve been awake for far longer than the early bird will be. As someone who does a lot of writing, I have found that I’m at my best in a creative sense later in the day, once all of my essential actions and errands have been taken care of. I call it my “Finally Time” — I finally have the clarity of thought, quiet I need and time I want to get my great work done.
While many are up at the crack of dawn and getting an early start to their day, I’m sleeping. And I’m no further behind because of it.
You see, I’ve already done the things that I needed to get a jump on the previous night. I’m no less productive than the early riser because I did what they do in the morning hours during the late hours the day beforehand; I am being proactive in my own way.
The notion that early risers are more productive than night owls is a myth. They just do “more productive” differently. How they allocate their time is the key.
Stop Struggling and Love the Late Hours
I started off by offering a very famous quote…but there’s more to it than what I initially delivered. My favourite addition to that quote is:
“The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.” – Jeremy Paxman
To some that may mean that you should proceed with caution rather than be first into the fray, but I tend to look at it differently.
There is no advantage to being an early riser over being a night owl when it comes to increasing your productivity. It’s all in how you handle what comes at you – day and night – and making sure that you handle in it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. If you find that you like getting up early, go for it. If you don’t, then don’t change that.
Listen to your mind and body and drive yourself to do more when it works for you. Don’t drive yourself insane trying to do anything that doesn’t.
(Photo credit: Time to Wake Up via Shutterstock)