6 Reasons Why Productivity Belongs To The Night Owls

By Alex Shalman

April 15, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Written on 4/15/2008 by Alex Shalman, creator of the Practical Personal Development blog.

Rising early, the habit of champions, is not statistically proven to increase productivity, happiness, or success. So why are so many people tooting their own horn about getting up before the rooster squawks?

It really comes down to the fact that certain early risers take full advantage of their early morning hours, and they’re very productive in telling us about it. This minority leaves out an important demographic of people, the ones that stay up late and sleep in, but make huge strides in productivity and innovation.

The benefits your body receives from waking early and enjoying more sunlight are marginal. Most people won’t use this time to be outside, rather they’ll spend it inside of a fluorescently illuminated cubicle. In theory, your productivity level shouldn’t differ if you rise at 4am or 11am. What matters is the quality of sleep that’s giving your mind and body sufficient time to recover.

So let’s consider some reasons why burning the midnight oil may be more productive than waking up before sunrise.

  1. Insomnia. The night owl will not go to sleep until they have hit a landmark in their productivity. They’ll work into the wee hours of the morning, and later if they have to.

If going to sleep late is consistent for you, but you do it at the same hour each night, then you still benefit from the synchronization of your circadian rhythm.

  • Calmness. The night air is still and tranquil. No chirping, singing, or buzzing from the animals around you. When I say animals, I also mean humans. They’ve already gone to bed, leaving you with the peace to get done what you want to get done.It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get things done in the face of loud noise, honking horns, and other sounds of the day. The stillness of the night creates a clearing for ideas, innovation, and creativity.
  • Isolation. The calmness that I just mentioned is partly because no one is up. You create an atmosphere where you are separated from the schedules of other people, and thus isolated from their need for your attention. In essence you are operating on a distraction free basis.You already know that it takes several minutes to get back into a state of flow after being distracted, so clearly when productivity is our ideal, distractions are our enemy.
  • An Agenda. Surprise, people get tired. If a person is going to stay up late to work, when they could have gone to sleep, they are clearly working on something of significant importance to them. Working on important things and being passionate about our work fuels us to an unbelievable extent.This purpose, or worthwhile cause, is the emotional rocket fuel that guides us in maximizing our minds to achieve our goals.
  • Consistency.Night owls gain appreciation for the leaps they make in their productivity during the night. In this way they anchor their positive feelings of accomplishment with working at night.Feeling accomplished is one of the greatest feelings, in fact is could feel better than any drug. This is why the night owl will consistently return to the productive underworld of the night, for productivity sake.
  • Minimal Multitasking. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that multitasking is not as productive as putting focused effort on one thing at a time. That’s because being present allows us to get things done more quickly and in a higher quality fashion.The night affords us with less outside pressure to multi-task. We’ll able able to concentrate on that one super important task at hand.

What do you think, could you be productive this way? Are you already?


Alex Shalman

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