Some people work best in the mornings, others in afternoons, and still others are night-owls and are more productive then. So goes conventional wisdom, which may be challenged from the perspective of happiness and productivity.
A recent study published in the American Psychological Association journal, Emotion, reports early risers are generally happier than night owls. More than 700 respondents, ranging from ages 17-79 were surveyed and asked about their emotional state, health and preferred time of day. Self-professed morning people reported feeling happier and healthier than night owls. Part of the reason, the researchers hypothesized, is that our society has structured the workday as a common 8-5 time period, which focuses more on a morning person’s schedule.
Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany reported, as a result of his research, which was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, that early birds are more proactive than evening people, and so they do well in business. “They tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges which then leads to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. They’re proactive,” he says.
In his interview in the Harvard Business Review, Randler goes on to contend “though evening people do have some advantages—other studies reveal they tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor and are more outgoing—they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule. When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards.” The challenge for business leaders, Randler argues, is to “bring out the best from their night owls.”
According to Laura Vanderkam, author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, contends that, in the course of researching dozens of people on how they spend their time, found that most successful people devoted significant portions of their time in the morning that was most important, or loved to do. In her writing, Vanderkam goes on to suggest how people can become more productive morning people including such suggestions as: making the to do list the day before; getting a good sleep; exercising; practicing a morning ritual, including meditation; eating a proper breakfast; avoiding morning meetings so the most important work can be done at highest productivity time; tackling the most important work first; and visualizing your ideal day.
So it seems that our workplace is stacked in favor of morning people and their bio-rhythmic cycles and the challenge for workplace leaders is how to accommodate the talents of night owls.