The early bird may get the worm, but does that mean night owls are tough out of luck when it comes to having a productive day?
Many of us can relate to this struggle. I am not a morning person. I could easily get a second wind at midnight and be ready to tackle my to-do’s until 2 a.m. For “eveningness chronotypes” like me, the creative juices start flowing when most people are just starting to hit the hay. When I’m up that late, though, rolling out of bed anytime before 9 a.m. is a no-go. Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide the most efficient schedule for functioning as a normal member of society.
Early rising friends often ask, “How can you just sleep your day away?” Well, it’s science. Studies show night owls and larks (aka, people who are naturally up at the crack of dawn) have different brain structures. The internal clock works differently in night owls versus early risers. So why fight nature? Show those early birds it’s possible to be a night owl and still have a super-productive day.
01. Write down a daily routine.
One of the best ways to kickstart your daily productivity is to write out and follow a routine. Establish a morning and afternoon schedule that is realistic. Write everything out in blocks of hours that you want to accomplish on a daily basis. Zhanna Merson, the owner of a fashion tech startup and a fellow night owl says, “Something magical happens when you take a pen and write down what you want to accomplish in the beginning of your day. It seems like our brains automatically register and prioritize these tasks accordingly.”
02. Eat and drink smart.
According to a study by psychology researcher Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics, night owls are naturally more intelligent, making it all the more important to nourish your brain. Research shows that skipping meals and dehydration results in depression, lethargy, and a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast high in protein (eggs or yogurt) and fiber (fruits or veggies) will jumpstart your metabolism and give you the energy you need to make the most of the waking hours of your day. And hydrating often (even if you have to trick yourself into drinking water) will keep your brain functioning at its best.
03. Prepare the night before.
If mornings aren’t your jam, make them as efficient as possible by preparing as much as you can the night before, when you feel most energized. Set out your outfit to cut out the guesswork. Load the coffee pot. Pack your lunch using one of these 11 ideas for healthy packed lunches. Or Jann Fujimoto, M.S., CCC-SLP, suggests, “pre-load your blender with the fixings for your smoothie and stash it in the fridge overnight, prepare frozen breakfast burritos or refrigerator oatmeal so you can have a healthy breakfast even though your brain may still be in slumber mode.”
04. Work with your body, not against it.
The wisest thing you can do for yourself is to know your body and how it works. Don’t try to fight your natural rhythm. If you know that you aren’t going to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before noon, be realistic and set up meetings and appointments for later in the day. Accomplish your hardest and most pertinent tasks when you are most alert. Believe it or not, research shows that night owls actually get their best work done in the morning. Even if you wake up at 10 a.m., get straight to work. Save mundane tasks like answering emails, cleaning and organizing for when you get that sudden burst of energy and motivation at night.
05. Soak up daylight.
When you wake up in the morning, it’s tempting to lie in bed and scroll through your phone for the first half hour. But don’t spend that time padding around in your pajamas checking Facebook. Due to our circadian rhythm, our bodies are naturally inclined to work with the sun. If your work involves being sucked into a screen all day long, take frequent breaks to make sure you are taking care of that circadian rhythm—go for a walk outside or look out the window everyone once in a while. If you work when the sun is down, your body will find it hard to adjust its energy levels during the day. Make the most of the daylight hours that you do have to keep up a normal beat.
06. Find ways to wind down.
Science shows that those who have nightly rituals get better and less interrupted sleep. Prioritize habits that help you relax and calm down before heading off to bed. No matter what time you go to bed, tune out of work and do something soothing like taking a bath, listening to music, reading a chapter of a book, or coloring a page out of an adult coloring book. Your body will adjust and learn that when you start your bedtime routine, it’s almost time to fall asleep. That way you’ll spend less time trying to fall asleep and get in much-needed zzz’s.
Being a morning person certainly has its advantages when starting the day, but being an evening person doesn’t mean you can’t be just as productive. These six hacks may be the kickstart you need.
Photo Credit: Sophie Hansen