I have spoken to hundreds of people over the years about when they work best. Some people say they are early birds and work best in the morning and some are night owls who work best in the evenings. Most people aren’t at the extremes but know roughly when they believe they work best. But do we actually know when we are at our most productive?
And does the question matter as a business owner? What is best for you and what is best for the team?
Scientists will talk a lot about our internal circadian biological clocks which regulates the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. The circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day. For most adults the strongest sleep drive generally occurs between 2:00 and 4:00 am and again in the afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (hence that dip of productivity straight after lunch- it isn’t necessarily the food it could be nature!).
What is clear is that good sleep is essential. Bad sleepers are more prone to health problems (more weight, a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes, increased inflammation, depression, lower productivity etc…). Good sleep helps repair the body, increases concentration and productivity, better athletic performance etc… So getting your 7 to 9 hours kip (the minimum advised to keep healthy) is essential.
But it has also been shown that the time of the sleep is essential. Like it or not we are animals and when the sun goes down our bodies want to induce sleep (Melatonin production starts up naturally as the sun goes down). People working nights have been proven to have an increased likelihood of health problems.
As a business owner I know I need to spend time working on my business away from the 9 to 5. So what is best – working long in to the evening or alternatively waking up early?
Most business authors and leaders suggest the answer is simple-be a morning person.
Firstly you have more willpower in the morning than at night- think late night snacking!!
More willpower means that you are more likely to stick to an early morning routine than a late one.
Starting the day fresh means a clean start (the problems of yesterday will be behind you and not at the forefront of your mind and the day’s events won’t have taken over your day).
A clean start means you can get on and either plan your day effectively and deal with important matters your MVPs (most vital priorities).
Most highly successful individuals have realised this and kick start their days usually starting at 5 am. This gives potentially 3 hours of undisturbed quality time before customers and staff starting calling.
As Ben Franklin said “the early morning has gold in its mouth”.
What about your team?
As an employer allowing a slightly more flexible working day could also reap benefits if early morning people start earlier and leave earlier. You could also see increased productivity through setting more challenging work in the morning and less challenging in the afternoon (particularly between 1 and 3). If you are training the team do it in the mornings when they are alert. Talk to your team about diet and drink. A high carb lunch and alcohol for one of your team is likely to result in a significant dip in their performance. Make sure your staff take a break and ideally go for a quick walk and breath of fresh air (the cigarette smokers taking a fag break probably increases their productivity!).
A conversation about sleep and how they feel throughout the day could result in some surprising outcomes and increased productivity.
If your employees must work at night time make sure you are aware of the regulations https://www.gov.uk/night-working-hours.
The key however for both business owners and employees is getting great sleep.
Also if you want to check out our top ten time savings tips read our article by clicking here.
If you need advice re time management and moving your business forwards please contact Mark Friend.
The content in this blog is correct as at 27/09/2019. See terms and conditions.