We all know the saying “the early bird catches the worm” —but where does that leave the night owl? In an age of challenging the status quo and questioning the antiquated rules set by generations gone-by, it’s time to look at the standard nine-to-five working structure to see if it’s a structure that’s actually working for us.
The nine-to-five as we know it favours the early risers. If you’re the kind of person who springs out of bed feeling fresh and alert first thing in the morning, you’re likely to do better in that 9am lecture than your peers who sat up past 3 o’clock. But not all of us come to life at the same time. Some people like to sleep in until mid-day.
Others can’t hold a coherent conversation before lunch time without first having sank several cups of coffee. And while there’s an unfair and unfounded opinion amongst many people that late-sleepers are lazy or lack motivation, the opposite is actually true. It all comes down to your circadian rhythm; an in-built clock that runs on its own 24-hour cycle, varying from person to person. Back in the day, when humans slept in groups, differing sleeping patterns were integral in ensuring that someone was awake at any given time to protect the family from predators; and that sleeping pattern has made its way from our ancestors to us without change.
So why can’t we use that genetic sleeping pattern to our advantage today? We’d argue that you can. It all starts with figuring out your own rythm. How do you perform in your first class of the day compared to your last? Do you often miss the morning bus and find yourself studying late into the night? What’s your energy like straight after lunch? Taking note of when you’re most alert will help you to optimize your time most efficiently —even if that means you operate on a different schedule to those around you.
If possible, pencil in your meetings at times when you know you’ll be feeling switched on — this way you’ll be more engaged, productive and better prepared to utilize the information learned long after the meeting has ended. If there’s a time in the day when you know you’re likely to switch off and zone out, plan your more monotonous, laborious work for those hours. And most importantly, make sure to get enough sleep.
There are endless studies to show that working longer does not equate to better work —so opt for regular rest and the results will speak for themselves. It goes beyond work and study, too —running on a time- frame that suits you best will benefit your love-life, social-life, family-life and your health, so consider it self-care and do a little analysis on what your dream 24 hour cycle looks like.
There’s a reason that those who dance to the beat of their own drum are the ones who seem most content.
Written by Lisa Kenney – Careers Features Editor