Imagine that it's 11 am. You've had the rare opportunity to stay in bed as long as you want today and you're now ready to start your day. You grab a bite to eat, a coffee perhaps, and you start work. You're still a bit sluggish and maybe procrastinate a bit. If you could have it your way, this time would be spent socializing with friends. After 3 PM you come alive and get into the flow to do some work. Working form home, you prefer to work at night and you easily stay productive until midnight. After so many hours of work, you grab something more to eat and get another hour or two in to compensate for your late wake-up. You feel pretty good about your day when you go to bed in the early hours of the morning.
Does this sound like you? Or maybe this is secretly your dream day?
This short scenario was inspired by the daily routine of Pablo Picasso. He was one of the most influential artists in history and he was extremely productive. He painted until the day he died at 91 and made 45,000 pieces in his lifetime. Many of us only dream to have that kind of output. We would consider him a night owl: He did most of his work between 4 pm and 3 am.
It's interesting that most of us today work from 9 am- 5 pm (except if you deal with people on the other side of the world, then we tend to match their 9-5). Even entrepreneurs who have a lot of freedom in how they structure their day stay surprisingly close to 9-5. Somewhere, we settled into this standard schedule under the assumption that it works best for everyone and I've always had serious doubts if that's true. Some famous and high achieving people advocate a very early wake up of 5 AM to become more productive, e.g. because you can get more done for the simple reason that you are up earlier than everyone else. Does it really matter that you're up before everyone else when you're so foggy that you can't think straight?
I recently read The power of when by Michael Breus and it was a real eye-opener. According to Breus' research, people can have one of 4 chronotypes (Chrono means time). We each have a natural biological rhythm and with that different times for peak performance. Some people indeed are early risers like the 5 AM clubbers and others have their peak in the late afternoon and evening like Picasso. The research discussed in the book matched my gut feeling from working with different people and optimizing my own daily routine that 9-5 can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a help when it comes to productivity.
Of course, depending on your line of work hitting your peak between 1-3 am could spell disaster. But I think it's underestimated what aligning with your natural rhythm can do for your productivity and even small tweaks can have a big influence. Like pushing the zoom meeting with that potential client to 1 pm instead of 11 am so that you're closer to your peak and sharp to make that sales call. Or by doing work that requires less focus during your off-peak moments.
Perhaps we can take a lesson from Picasso and start thinking about how we can build routines around our work that are tailored to us.
Have a wonderful flow today,