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Productivity Fowl: Early Birds and Night Owls

September 10, 2012

There really are morning people and night people. I had figured it was just a wives tale. More than that it can significantly affect your productivity.

At 9AM a large chunk of individuals’ brains are more excitable and the polar opposite, 9PM, was true for the other chunk of folks, in a study by the University of Alberta. The excitability of morning people gradually decreased throughout the day and vice versa for the night dwellers.

This being said, be mindful of how you feel throughout the day and determine which group you belong with. Then try to schedule your tasks that are both challenging AND important during your “peak” hours, around either 9AM or 9PM.

The other side of that coin means avoiding doing draining, unimportant tasks during these periods of the day.

This is not the end of the story, however.

There are different TYPES of thinking that are best saved for different times of the day.

During the Peak: Some tasks require lots of working memory, which allows us to control what comes in and out of our mind. According to Sian Beilock, these tasks are ones that we must progress through incrementally (think math problems).

During the Lull: Other tasks are like “insight problems”. You think about them and then “Aha!” you have an answer. It would be like solving this question from Beilock’s article:

“Water lilies double in area every 24 hours. At the beginning of summer there is one water lily on the lake. It takes 60 days for the lake to become completely covered with water lilies. On which day is the lake half covered?”

These tasks are best done when the working memory is tired and creativity can flow with less regulation. (The answer is 59 by the way.)

Source: Morning People And Night Owls Show Different Brain Function and Creativity Happens When You Least Expect It

Photo: Flickr/warzauwynn

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