I’m having a lot of conversations and sending emails back and forth with people this week about their time logs. There is a lot of fascinating stuff going on out there: night skiing, family hikes, trips to the circus, weekend getaways to San Francisco, a white-knuckle drive home in a storm, adults making time to practice their musical instruments (love that) and so forth.
A lot of the time loggers came to me after reading What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and consequently, there are a lot of attempts at morning routines. Some people have far more elaborate ones than anything I could hope to do.
Others, however, are struggling. Several entries in the 168 hours spreadsheet are taken up by hitting the snooze button. People apologize to me that they’re going to bed at 1 a.m. and getting to work at 10. One woman was valiantly getting into bed at 10:30 in the hopes of getting up at 6:30, and then tossing and turning for hours and getting up around 8:30 instead. What did I think?
Here’s what I think: some people are not morning people. And that’s OK.
There are several reasons getting up early works better for most people. We tend to have more willpower first thing in the morning. Few emergencies come up at 6 a.m. to distract you from whatever you’ve decided to prioritize. But one key reason is a bit of a circular one. Many workplaces expect you to be in by 8 or 9, just as many high schools start at 7:45 or so, and elementary school buses can come pretty early too. The reason to get up is that you have to get up. Many people can’t come to work at 10 without their bosses being furious, and possibly risking their jobs. If you have kids you have to get them on the bus or the truancy officer is going to come looking for you. Of course, if we all agreed to get up later and start life later, we could all do that. But institutions seem to start on the early side. So we do too.
But what if your life doesn’t look like that? What if you don’t have kids? What if you have a flexible workplace, or work at one of those freewheeling tech companies where everyone is 24 and still on a college schedule? Among some of the people who complained of being late to work every morning, it certainly seemed like several had kept their jobs for...a while. Meaning that on some level, their workplaces were OK with it. If you come in at 10 and work until 7, you are still putting in an 8-9 hour day (depending on breaks). And if your body clearly doesn’t want to go to bed at 10:30 (and tossing and turning for hours can certainly indicate that) then why push it?
Better to embrace your night owl nature, and use the hours of 10-midnight to attack personal priorities. It’s generally not a great time for exercise (although something like yoga might be OK). But it’s a good time for reading, writing, painting, crafting, or other creative work if you’re a night owl type who can focus then.
Again, many night owls have to become morning people because of life circumstances. If you’re a night owl whose kid wakes up every morning at 6:30, you’re going to have to adjust. If you’re a night owl whose job requires you to be there at 8 a.m., and you otherwise like your job, you’re going to have to figure something out. But if you’re making progress at work, fitting in exercise, don’t have immediate family obligations, and are making time for personal priorities, then go to bed and wake up whenever works for you.
In other news:
A mini-round-up! Lifehacker runs the Laura Shin piece from LearnVest on Are You Really as Busy as You Think You Are?
All the Money in the World plays a cameo role in Jennifer Lynch’s bar story (she was reading it when the man came over to talk to her)
Leanne Sowul writes a lovely little tribute to my books. My favorite bit: “I’ve said it dozens of times before: read her books. They really will change the way you think about your life and what you can do with time, the one resource we all have the same amount of.” Thank you Leanne!
Remember how, yesterday, we were talking about why date night doesn't happen? Little Spindle writes about how date night did happen.
At CEO.com, I ask How often should you be in the office?
What’s on the agenda for your President’s Day weekend? (and is it Presidents’ or President’s? One president, or multiple ones?)
Photo courtesy flickr user WarmSleepy