Most creative people understand their productivity cycles. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, always worked on the comic strip between 6 and 7 a.m. Columnist Ann Landers, however, would never begin work before 10 a.m. Though they adopted different working schedules, both were extremely successful in their fields.
Early birds comprise about 10% of the population. These people generally are more productive in the hours before lunch. Their favorite meal is breakfast and they begin getting sleepy around 9 p.m.
Night owls are the opposite of early birds and comprise about 20% of the population. They are most alert around 6 p.m. and are most productive late in the evening. They often stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. and would prefer sleeping until 10 a.m. Their favorite mealtime is dinner and they consume lots of coffee throughout the day. Night owls do not sleep as well as early birds do. Therefore, they accumulate a considerable amount of “sleep debt.”
That leaves 70% of the population unexplained. This group often is referred to as hummingbirds. Their behavior doesn’t consistently fit into either category. They tend to flutter from one end of the spectrum to the other. These people get by on less sleep than the night owls or early birds. Because they sleep less, they also accumulate “sleep debt” over time.
It is important that we identify our work and sleep cycles and our peak productivity windows. If we waste our peak hours in mundane tasks, we will be less productive and creative than we could have been.
We must budget our time in the same way we budget our money. Haphazardly spending money will lead to financial trouble. Being careless with our time will rob us of our creativity and productivity. Use each hour wisely because once a moment passes, it can’t be relived. Think about it.
Are you an early bird, night owl, or hummingbird? When is your most productive time of the day? How efficiently do you use it?