In The Quiet of The Morning or The Dead of Night

We all have our most productive time of day dictated by our chronotype, the natural times of activity driven by our circadian rhythm. For some it's the dead of night, after everyone has gone to sleep, and there's nothing left but your thoughts to keep you company. The evening can be a great time to be productive, and for some it is probably the only time.

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

But for me, and many others, there's nothing like an early morning to get going on something wonderful. Before everyone else starts moving, the world is just...quiet. And there's a lot of very interesting research that points to why the mornings can be the most productive time of day.

The Harvard Business Review points to a study around the natural tendency for morning people to achieve greater career success due to the rhythm of the corporate world which tends to benefit those who rise early. The study also found a correlation between early risers and proactivity.

Also, recent research points to the idea of Decision Fatigue, namely the effect of a day's worth of making decisions leaves people with a reduced ability to tackle complex situations later in the day. From deciding what you are going to wear, to how to tactfully tell coworkers you disagree, all the decisions you make in the day take their toll.

Not all is lost for those who do work at night, as many of these researchers found that a) some people are just genetically wired to work better at night, and b) productivity =/= creativity. Just because you do a lot of great work in the morning, doesn't mean that you are being as creative as you could be. Many of those same studies found that the lack of filters at night lead to more creative ideas.

On top of that, most researchers observe that the chronotype of an individual can change as they age. People who are early risers as teenagers, may become night owls as they mature, and then back to early risers when they have children.

Achieving peak productivity is essential to becoming efficient with your time and your resources, which has a huge impact on your overall quality of work. So what's the best time for you to do your work? It depends.

What's most important is to learn what works best for you. If you've been an early riser for most of your life, but find the mornings becoming less and less useful, maybe it's time to switch it up. Listening to what your body is telling you is critically important to learning how to work with it, instead of in spite of it. If all of your energy is spent forcing your body to do what you want it to do, then there will be nothing left to actually get anything done. You'll know that you've found a great time to work when the hours just seem to pass by, and your work not only gets done, but is a better output than at any other time of day.

Experiment, don't just go by what you've heard makes a productive person. Figure out what's best for you, and it will be an investment that pays dividends in the work you do for the rest of your life.

- Ryan